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World powers compete to control the genetics of intellect, and a man’s DNA holds a key piece of the puzzle. When research suggests how to harness brain evolution, a hunt ensues for a missing linkone that allows to design humans with skills that prodigies of old would have envied. The reader is thrown into the thick of unfolding events as the world’s last monarchy crumbles and a baby is torn from its mother and forced into hiding. For the next twenty years he will grow up unaware of the pivotal role he shall play in the global pursuit for the unique traits he possesses. Germline engineering and biological enhancement have become routine, and ancient doubts have emerged under new guises: Who are we? Is there a purpose to life? Why is there so much suffering? When faith and science fail to answer these questions, personal greed and national interest quickly fill the void. But gene selection is expensive, and many are excluded from its benefits. The stage is set for tribalism and social discontent on a scale without precedent, and those caught in the fray, whether by choice or by chance, must play roles not always to their liking in the struggle of all creatures against the arbitrariness of existence.
A novel that not only entertains but enlightens and informs as well, Cognition might be the debut release from Jacques St-Malo but he writes with the assuredness of a seasoned bestseller. Cognitive genetics, cloning and germline manipulations he takes evolving sciences and builds a future world that whilst far from dystopian is none the less alarming as Ethan and Valerie find their destinies converging. An acerbic and taut techno-thriller that keeps us engrossed from start to finish, Cognition is one of those intelligent novels that leaves us in no doubt as to who the players are, what motivates them and why. More importantly, St-Malo proves himself quite exceptional when it comes to manipulating the elements of intrigue and suspense. Navigating an intricate plot, with clandestine military agencies in pursuit of Ethan, St-Malo notably avoids prescriptive stereotypes to create a cast of characters who are robust, well-conceived and imbued with a real-world presence. In doing so he’s quick to establish emotional groundwork that fully engages his readers whilst his dialogue is always spot on.
Reasons enough to pick up a copy and begin reading it would, however, be disingenuous not to mention St Malo’s social commentary. Informed, well researched and cutting is Cognition a prescient view of what is to come or just a damn good read? Readers will have to make their own minds up. What shouldn’t be disputed is the calibre of the mind behind the pen and the quality of St-Malo’s debut release.
A must read, especially for fans of the Techno-Thriller genre
Cognition is recommended without reservation.
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Jacques St-Malo & the idea behind Cognition
The idea behind Cognition goes back at least twenty years, to a growing certainty that there are facts that, while demonstrably true, may not be understandable by creatures armed only with the brainpower that humans currently possess. This fuelled the nagging suspicion that people hold violently contrary views of central issues affecting their lives, not out of stubbornness or the desire to antagonize others, but for the same reason that a dog may bark at a harmless presence while wagging its tail at a lethal one, namely their inability to separate how they feel about something from how they reason about it, for in their minds the two are one.