The Missing Link is Revealed
The latest novel from husband-and-wife authors, W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear, features essentially man’s creation of the missing link between apes and humans. Dark Inheritance transcends the realms of the current genome project and genetic engineering to bring the first ape of the endangered Bonobo species, to contain the larger and more intelligent human brain.
Some of you may remember Lucy, the ape who could communicate through sign language. Dark Inheritance’s main character, Umber the Bonobo, can do this and more: she has a little keyboard with a voice synthesizer by which she can communicate with people, albeit with a monotone, robotic voice. Umber can also read and write, though only at a child’s level.
Umber has been a part of the family, Bret’s sister and Jim Dutton’s daughter, for many years now. Even though she is considered a member of the Dutton family, she is the property of the pharmaceutical giant SAC. SAC is the company which has bred these super-intelligent apes. There are many scattered over the globe, each part of the a different family.
Then there is the clandestine facility in northwest Africa, where SAC’s full program is slowly but surely coming to term. The genius scientist who se brainchild this is, Geoffrey Smyth-Archer, has one aim: to return this “altered” ape to the wild, with the hope that their small numbers will grow and multiple, while their survival skills drastically improves. Sadly, there are other members of the team who have ambitions ranging from power to monetary gain.
Though the characters are strong and multitudinous, they serve more to trip each other up at times that help the story along. At some points their actions seem forced and artificial, and even though Dark Inheritance is professed to be similar to Michael Crichton’s work (according to Douglas Preston), but Crichton would never create such complicated characters, nor would he let any sense of synthetic characterization take place.
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Originally published on December 3rd 2001.
Originally published in the Long Beach Union.