Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Curiosity - Stephen P. Kiernan

I'm always been fascinated by discoveries of the past such as Franklin's Expedition or Shackleton and the Endurance. My curiousity is piqued - what can we glean from artifacts found? Can we tell what happened on these ill fated journeys?

Curiosity- definition: A strong desire to know or learn something. A strange or unusual object or fact.

Stephen P. Kiernan's  explores both of those definitions in his debut fiction novel The Curiosity.

The Lazarus Project is working on 'reanimation' of life forms frozen and trapped in hard ice. They have so far managed to bring small creatures, such as krill and plankton, back to life. While on their latest search in the Arctic, Dr. Kate Philo and her team come across a fully frozen man - dressed in a suit. This is a staggering find - this reanimation will be the company's biggest triumph. (Much of this is based on fact - read the idea behind the book.)

The Curiosity is told from four points of view - that of Dr. Kate, the frozen man - Judge Jeremiah Rice, the owner of Lazarus - Erastus Carthage and Daniel Dixon, a journalist.

This wide variety of views allows Kiernan to explore all the avenues that such an event might open. Is Rice an experiment or a man? Who gets to direct his life? Is the company playing God? Is it real or an elaborate hoax? Where and what would such an event lead to next?

The four main characters are all clearly drawn and elicited distinct reactions from this reader. Kate is the clam, cool, empathic lead who sees Rice as a man and not a lab rat. Her - I liked. Carthage is a caricature of a power hungry egomaniac who sees himself as brilliant and untouchable. He refers to himself in the third person. Him - didn't like. Dixon seems to be written in a foil for both camps - he rides the middle line, but is a distinctly unlikable character. Which brings us to Judge Jeremiah. I was quite interested in his reawakening and his views on the world 100 years later. Kiernan provides many well-thought observations, but this is not the main thrust of the book.

There are many ideas and stories running through the novel. Ethical and moral considerations are presented, but the main storyline is the relationship between Dr. Kate and the Judge. Although we are aware of the outcome from the opening chapters, I was captured by 'what would happen next'. Indeed, you might say curious. "With this man's curiosity at my side, life possessed a newness, a richness. Jeremiah Rice gave me back the world."

There were a few threads that I wish had been taken further - notably descendants of Jeremiah. This is touched on, but not explored as fully as I would have liked.

Although The Curiosity raises some qood food for thought (there is a reading guide available), at it's heart, it is satisfying entertainment reading for the summer deck. Science fiction with a healthy dose of romance. Read an excerpt of The Curiosity.

"Over two-plus decades as a journalist Stephen Kiernan  has won 40 awards, including the Brechner Institute’s Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism (two time commentary finalist) and the George Polk Award. He has taught at Middlebury College and the New England Young Writers Conference, and has worked on the staff of the Breadloaf School of English and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. He chairs the board of the Young Writers Project, served on the Vermont Legislative Committee on Pain and Palliative Care, and joined the advisory board of the New Hampshire Palliative Care Initiative. Stephen travels the country speaking to a wide variety of audiences about improving life’s last chapters, restoring America through volunteerism and philanthropy, and using the power of creativity to transform lives." You can find Kiernan on his blog and on Facebook.

See what others on the TLC Book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.


bermudaonion said...

I generally avoid sci fi but am intrigued by this book.

Luanne said...

I'm not much of a sci fi reader either Kathy - it wasn't a huge part of the book.

trish said...

What an interesting concept to explore! I can't imagine what it would be like to wake up 100 years in the future.

Thanks for being on the tour!