Monday, November 16, 2015
THE BONE LABYRINTH
THE BONE LABYRINTH (Morrow, on sale 12/15, ISBN 13: 780062381644, $27.99) by James Rollins.
In THE BONE LABYRINTH, Rollins has taken his trademark scientific research to the next level and has created extraordinary characters that allow him to compare and contrast intelligence in nonhuman primates with that of human intelligence. More revolutionary and terrifying than Jurassic Park, THE BONE LABYRINTH explores similar themes—but he’s gone far beyond dinosaurs into the world of prehistoric human beings and genetically modifying human embryos using ancient DNA. Rollins weaves in cutting edge scientific details unlike any other writer writing today.
Rollins urges readers to stretch their imaginations while learning real details about history, science and current events. Rollins’ own fascination and extensive education in evolutionary biology inform these tales that are rooted in scientific and historical plausibility, yet encapsulated in a fantastical stretch of the imagination.
There are many themes to explore in this novel:
• WHAT CAUSED “THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD”: For the past 200,000 years, human brains remained unchanged, but roughly 50,000 years ago, there was an intelligence explosion that has baffled both anthropologists and geneticists. Why did human intelligence suddenly surge ahead? That’s what THE BONE LABYRINTH explores, tapping into the latest research about an unknown piece of mankind’s history. What Rollins discovered is astounding.
• ROLLINS THE VETERINARIAN, RESEARCH IN CHINA: Rollins visited the Beijing Zoo for research and found the state of that zoological park to be appalling. This detail plays a major role in the story and he’s happy to discuss his trip. As a veterinarian, he folds in animals into his novels in unique ways. The character of Baako, a genetically modified gorilla, allowed him to explore intelligence in nonhuman primate.
• CREATING ENEMIES WITHIN OUR BORDERS: Currently half the physics doctorates from the U.S. are awarded to foreign nationals, most return home. Much of their education is paid for by the American taxpayer. This poses a security risk to America, but we’re also creating our own market competitors. Scientists and engineers drive innovation—and we’re shipping that intellectual capital abroad.
• NEW HUMAN SPECIES: In September the NYTimes reported that a new human species had been discovered in Africa. This was well after Rollins had finalized THE BONE LABYRINTH, but in this novel he proposes that humans share DNA with another extinct species. But what does this mean when we begin to engineer life and what dangers does this pose? Some believe that genetically modifying embryos could eradicate devastating diseases, but it’s a slippery road toward eugenics, where human life will be engineered, where potentially there will be a new class of human. And while this sounds like the stuff of science fiction, it’s already yesterday’s news. The genie is out of the bottle—and where that might lead is explored in THE BONE LABYRINTH.
• MYSTERIES OF THE MOON: Father Carlos Crespi’s vast collection of mysterious artifacts puzzle historians. The mystery eventually led to a great search into a cavern system that spanned the Andes, led by a reclusive American hero: Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. His strange enlistment in this venture plays a major part of THE BONE LABYRINTH. And what mysteries does the moon hold? THE BONE LABYRINTH explores just how truly strange the lunar satellite is. For example, the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, while also sitting 1/400th distance between the earth and the sun. No other planetary moon in our solar system matches this symmetry, not even close. Isaac Asimov described this odd alignment as “the most unlikely coincidence imaginable.”