A bit of flash from the past.
Guest Blogger: Mark Wakely - Author of AN AUDIENCE FOR EINSTEIN
An Audience for Einstein wasn't meant to be escapism literature or light reading. There are more than enough of those novels out there for young adults, and I didn't want to add yet another one to that burgeoning pile. Instead, I wanted to write a thoughtful novel about a serious subject that gets scant attention despite the enormous implications it holds, especially for the younger generations. That subject is the rapid advances being made in the genetic manipulation of the human genome, and how we will soon have the ability to alter what it means to be human. While there will be much to celebrate when we can eliminate diseases like cancer, genetic manipulation could also lead to a whole new class of humans being created, ones deemed “superior” in both physical and mental abilities. As you undoubtedly know, the last time someone tried to create a perfect “master race,” things took a decidedly evil turn. The problem is that many of these medical procedures are so new, few laws or regulations are governing them. We see the noble promises of the procedures but aren't discussing the genuine dangers.
An Audience for Einstein discusses those dangers, in a way designed to promote debate among readers young and old as to the pros and cons of “playing God” with human creation.
It's the story of three main characters, and how they intersect and change each other's lives. There's Doctor Carl Dorning, the neurosurgeon who abandoned his lucrative career as a premier brain surgeon to pursue his dream of human memory transfer; Professor Percival Marlowe, the elderly, dying astrophysicists who bankrolls Dorning's experiment in the hope of obtaining some small measure of immortality; and Miguel Sanchez, a homeless boy who's manipulated by Dorning to be the recipient of Marlowe's memories with promises of wealth and fame, not knowing that if the experiment succeeds, his memories and personalities will be lost forever.
Like all novels, it has its source of inspiration. For An Audience for Einstein, that inspiration was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. When Marlowe is “reborn” for days and weeks at a time in the body of the young Miguel, he finally sees himself as others saw him in his previous life, and the image isn't flattering. Like the ghosts of Christmas past and present- who show Scrooge in A Christmas Carol the realities of his selfish ways, Marlowe sees for the first time how his arrogance and conceit diminished him, despite his significant scientific achievements. This epiphany leads him to make the ultimate sacrifice to redeem himself and restore things as they should be.
When An Audience for Einstein was first published, it began to find a home in both middle school and high school classrooms. Many teachers told me how well their students responded to the book, and some of the exciting things they wrote had to say about it. I ever conducted a few Skype interviews with classes assigned my book and answered several emails from students asking me questions about its purpose and meaning. All that is what I had envisioned for my novel from the beginning, but then my publisher struggled and went out of business, and my book faltered and faded. With this new edition, I'm hopeful that schools and teachers will rediscover an Audience for Einstein and serve an essential purpose in the classroom once more.