GENE EDITING IS A FEDERAL CRIME #GPA
ONE MISTAKE CAUSED THE GREAT STARVATION #GPA #NEVERFORGET
These are billboards you would pass if you lived in Denver Colorado in the far enough future that gene editing technology is much further advanced, but not so far that hashtags aren’t still a thing.
The benefits to this technology include clothes made with spider silk and improvements in medicine and agriculture. But there is also a darker side, where dolls can be wrapped in human muscle and skin and wasps can be modified to target people based on their genetic fingerprints. And even the best of intentions can take a turn for the worse, which is what happened when Logan Ramsey’s mother genetically modified locusts in an effort to improve crops against blight. But mutations started knocking out genes essential for seed production which caused the death of 200 million people. Ramsey’s mother commit suicide and Ramsey himself went to prison, but eventually won a pardon with the help of the ACLU.
Upgrade begins after all of this. Ramsey is out of prison and reluctantly working for the GPA, or Gene Protection Agency, which looks for scientists engaging in gene modification, which is now outlawed. His job consists of looking for plasmids on the pages of books, raiding gene labs, and arresting brilliant scientists who, once in the running for nobel prizes, are now traitorous villains. He was The Man, working for an agency with questionable tactics.
While raiding a suspected lab, Ramsey is struck by a bio bomb. After the incident, he begins to notice…improvements. They are subtle at first, like when Ramsey finds he is able to beat his daughter in chess. Then he notices he can recall books with photo clarity and remembers conversations from years ago. He has improved focus, concentration, intuition, and can multi-task without defaulting to autopilot. Physically, his body improves as well – his bones get denser, his muscles leaner and larger, he has higher pain tolerance and resistance against various diseases. But, while the upgrade Ramsey has received seems good, he doesn’t know who is responsible or why. And when he finds himself held in a black sight by his employer and later broken out by a mysterious, and seemingly equally upgraded fighter, Ramsey knows he is involved in a much deeper endeavor.
Crouch writes an easy read that tackles questions like climate change and the dark side of technology. Existential questions like how much damage can be done to help the greater good underlie his futuristic thrill. He also has an interesting take on how isolated Ramsey becomes as the result of his enhancements. The story moves along at a good pace, but is a bit over the top with some of the abilities Ramsey develops. It’s a interesting premise and kept me reading, but you may have to push the “I want to believe” button a time or two.