Reformation

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5.00 · 1 ratings · Published: Jan 12th, 2015 {{ book.ratingTitle }}
A Kirkus Review:

"In Mason’s debut sci-fi novel, a tormented anthropologist looking for the origins of mankind meets a not-quite-human girl who reminds him of a lost love.

This work impressively shuttles backward and forward through the cosmos, speculating on humanity’s remote past and destined future, while largely remaining bound to the same setting: a few arid square miles in northern Kenya in 1985. That’s where John Lohner, a Harvard paleoanthropologist on an excavation site, tries to forget about the tragedies in his life—specifically, his mother’s suicide, his own suicide attempt, and the death of his fiancee, Diane, in a traffic accident.

The fact that Lohner hears voices in his head doesn’t make things any easier.

When he and his African assistant, Kamau, find an unnaturally pale, hairless, and nude girl, Mia, in a field, he’s shocked to find that she reminds him of Diane. Readers, however, already know that Mia, perceived by natives as a “witch,” is actually a synthetic humanoid—a sort of ephemeral scout created by a mysterious, spaceborne entity called the Shepherd, which travels through time and space by using black holes.

Four million years ago, the Shepherd clashed with a marauding artificial intelligence called A4-Ni over the custody of Gilomir, a precious, sentient genome sequence. The two wounded combatants tumbled to primordial Earth, where Gilomir sowed the seeds for intelligent Homo sapiens. Now the Shepherd and A4-Ni, with inhuman patience, near a showdown, in which Lohner unwittingly plays an important part.

In lesser hands, this obtuse material could have gone completely off the rails. However, Mason doles out the story’s mind-stretching revelations, on an Olaf Stapledon–like scale, and pathos with fair skill, keeping the narrative’s key features carefully hidden or flat-out
confounding.

In his flights of imagination, he sometimes spins sheer prose-poetry out of genetic-science terminology, practically singing of haploids, nucleotides, chromosomes, and amino acids (“A4-Ni stored her methodology in a genetic lockbox she constructed in his Y chromosome”).

A sequel, Primordium Book Two: Renaissance, has already been published.

An ambitious tale with compelling concepts but one that’s dauntingly dense—even for sci-fi readers raised on the temporal loops of Doctor Who." --- Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

In Primordium Book One: Reformation, John Lohner, a paleoanthropologist on a dig in northern Kenya, is driven to distraction by an inner voice. But can he achieve peace of mind when the voice belongs to a mysterious life form intent on nurturing in him the only remaining pure strain of the alien genome responsible for mankind's humanity?

A small sphere with exotic powers called the guardian contains the alien genome Gilomir. Four million years ago, A4-Ni, the mysterious life form, steals the guardian from the Shepherd, a universal constructor of alien design. She inserts Gilomir DNA into the hostile host of an ancient hominid. By so doing, she unwittingly initiates the evolution of Homo sapiens, creatures having no chance of survival in the closed universe they inhabit but were not meant to see, much less have the intelligence to comprehend.

Four million years later, the Shepherd traces the guardian to John's excavation. Not knowing the strength of the thief A4-Ni, who has remained to nurture the genome, the Shepherd creates Mia, a synthetic female, and charges her with retrieving the guardian, which is encased in a hominid fossil. After John saves the clueless Mia from marauding bandits, he takes a liking to her. Their growing affection for one another puts them at odds with their respective masters. In the end, their worlds come apart when they realize their masters' interests trump their own and only one master can be triumphant.

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