What if you could evolve in a moment?
What if you had the power to change the genetic future of your loved ones and the people they become – simply by the way you live your life?
When neuroscientist Daniel Hayden’s father dies, such thoughts begin to erode his very sanity, with the growing fear that he might share a dark secret buried deep in his family’s past – a past he is about to relive. The idea only seems to gain credibility from the bizarre results coming from his own laboratory, forcing Daniel to resurrect the discredited theories of an eighteenth century naturalist in the process. Was Daniel’s fate sealed all those years ago? Has he been betrayed by his own DNA?
Antisense combines literary fiction with the sharp, crisp prose and pace of the best suspense novels. The author’s insight into medical science and how it might inform the nature of human behaviour is all the more compelling because it is based on real science. It’s not a whodunit, but a whydunit. Not science fiction, but fiction with real science woven through it. A thought provoking and enigmatic work.
Richard’s 20 years working in hospital medicine and research, informs his gripping first novel Antisense in which neuroscientist Daniel Hayden struggles to reconcile his scientific theories with his troubled emotions after the death of his father reveals a dark secret.
Without giving anything of the plot away, at its core, the book is about what makes us the people we are. Everyone, at some point in their lives, starts to recognise patterns of behaviours they can attribute to their parents. It’s the classic ‘You’re just like your mother/father’ cliché couples inevitably end up throwing at each other from time to time. Those traits can be good and bad, of course. But what if there was something terrible in your family’s past? How constrained are we by the behaviours we learn or inherit? Can we ever escape them or are we ‘doomed’ to relive them?
These are the questions Daniel, the narrator of Antisense, is tormented by. A torment only compounded by the results of his scientific research, which are utterly confusing at first, but then start to converge with his personal life with devastating consequences. There’s more detail on the ‘The Science Bit’ page, but suggest you read that after reading Antisense to avoid any possible spoilers! But in a nutshell, the science behind the book is real.
“We had lived in the same house for as long as I could remember. My mother had a job in a bank before I came along, but soon gave it up for that rural and, frankly, servile existence. And there should have been more children. I knew of the miscarriages before my birth and the emergency hysterectomy that hastily followed my arrival. It was another childhood burden I carried: that maybe I was only part of the family my parents wanted, that I, alone, was not enough to defrost my mother nor reanimate my father. But there were other reasons, unknown and unspoken, I could only vaguely sense, like old scars the cause of which you can’t remember.”
“In a cramped diner across the street from the hotel I struggled to find my reflection in a decidedly matt cup of coffee. Around me, a weary clientele occupied cracked vinyl booths in ones and twos, eating silently from tables strewn with sugar as if they had been gritted for snow. My room rate at the Hotel included breakfast but I’d been unable to face the staff for fear they had seen me going into Kim’s room the night before. Neither had I stopped to wash and I could still smell her on my lips and my hands. Without daring to look up, I summoned a waitress and asked for directions to the restroom where I washed with a rigour Pilate would have been proud of.”
“In science the greatest of pitfalls is when, no longer the pursuit of truth, it becomes the pursuit of happiness. When we seek only the answers we wish to find. When, for a moment, we believe we can exert some control over our small corner of the universe, an undoubted pleasure in such solutions when so little else in life can offer the same.”
“I turned to Baxter, trying to suppress the panic tensing every fibre of every muscle that was mine to control. Baxter, too, appeared to be on the brink of a more feral exchange. Hairs were erecting beneath his crisp white shirt. I could almost hear his cuff links jangling.
‘Please, Charles,’ I managed to say, ‘put me out of my misery.’”
‘I’m referring, of course, to the incident in the animal house,’ he said.
I didn’t have to manufacture the staggered look of disbelief I gave him. What the hell was this?”
“His voice was quiet and calm – like a vicar, she says – just as she, too, had to be quiet and not disturb her mother snoring away in the bedroom upstairs. It wasn’t going to hurt. And it would make everything better. What Sheila had done to make her mother so unwell would now be undone. She would be forgiven.”