Frameshift won Japan's Seiun Award and was a finalist for the Hugo Award.
Pierre Tardivel is a scientist working on the Human Genome Project with the Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Burian Klimus. A driven man, Pierre works with the awareness that he may not have long to live: he has a fifty-fifty chance of dying from Huntington's disease, an incurable hereditary disorder of the central nervous system. While he still has his health, Pierre and his wife decide to have a child, and they search for a sperm donor. When Pierre informs Dr. Klimus of their plan, Klimus makes an odd but generous offer: to be the sperm donor as well as to pay for the expensive in vitro fertilization. Shortly thereafter it transpires that Klimus might be hiding a grim past: he may be Ivan Marchenko, the notorious Treblinka death-camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.
While digging into Klimus's past with the help of Nazi hunter Avi Meyer, Pierre and his wife discover that Pierre's insurance company has been illegally screening clients for genetic defects. The two lines of investigation begin to coverage in a sinister manner, while they worry about the possibility of bearing the child of an evil, sadistic killer . . .
This edition includes the bonus reading group guide.
ROBERT J. SAWYER has won the Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell Memorial, Seiun, and Aurora Awards, all for best science fiction novel of the year. His novels include Hominids, Rollback, Wake, and FlashForward (basis for the TV series).
It's awfully tough to follow success. Sawyer, a skilled writer of SF techno-thrillers whose The Terminal Experiment won the 1995 Nebula for Best Novel, stumbles in his attempt. After learning that he has a 50/50 chance of carrying the deadly gene for Huntington's Disease, brilliant French-Canadian geneticist Pierre Tardivel dedicates his life to working on the Human Genome Project. An assault by a knife-wielding skinhead sets Pierre off on an investigation that uncovers evidence that his insurance company is secretly collecting DNA samples from its clients, and that, in order to save money, those whose genes reveal any medical disorders are murdered. At the same time, Pierre and his wife, Molly, become involved in the U.S. Justice Department's hunt for a Nazi death camp guard. Sawyer seems to have taken on more than he can handle here. Plot twists are clearly telegraphed, and two sideplots--the first involving a genetic "frameshift" (the source of Molly's telepathic abilities) and a second involving the discovery that their daughter, conceived through in vitro fertilization, is a cloned Neanderthal--are left largely unexplored. The novel's climax--an action sequence involving the villain's attempted rooftop escape by helicopter--is just plain silly. Sawyer's unflinchingly honest and powerful portrait of Pierre, however, who is slowly overwhelmed by the disease he hopes to conquer, almost makes up for the awkward plotting.