Regeneration, the third and final book of the ®Evolution sequence, is about to drop in North America. Given that it’s been out in the UK for the past eight months, I’ve already done a lot of public meditating on what it’s ‘like’ to have completed the trilogy (short answer: I don’t really know what it’s like. To what can you compare it?). Now I’m thinking about the internationalist dimension. One of the things that I’ve found fascinating, and often surprising, over the past few years is the different ways in which the books have been received and understood in different countries and communities. Continue reading
There are three books on my desk as I write this, stacked neatly one atop the other. They’re to the left of my laptop, just in my eyeline. I placed them there yesterday in a moment of pride, as well as expectation that they would be a useful prompt for the writing I need to do today; but I’m beginning to suspect that their presence may not be entirely helpful. There’s a tension about them I didn’t expect, a suspensefulness despite their familiarity. They are the books of the ®Evolution: Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration. They’re my books: I wrote them, and these are my precious first edition trade copies, with which I will never part. Continue reading
Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Stephanie Saulter?
She’s Jamaican-born, American-educated, a Londoner by choice. A good cook and a bad singer. Possessor of a career that’s had at least as much to do with what could be learned as what could be earned. The person who never ends up seeing the films that everyone else is talking about, because she stayed home and read a book.
Your novel Binary is due to be published in the US by Quercus in May 2015. It’s the second in your ®Evolution series – how would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans expect from book two?
The ®Evolution trilogy is set in a London of the near future, around a hundred years after a technologically-caused pandemic known as the Syndrome came close to wiping out the entire human species. Genetic engineering of embryos eventually provided immunity and prevented extinction, but with some babies it was taken further, creating a servant class of genetically modified humans known as gems. This continued for generations, until the indenture system was abolished and gems were acknowledged to have at least some of the rights of other humans. The first book, Gemsigns, takes place against the backdrop of the upheaval that follows this decision. The gemtechs are trying to overturn it and reclaim the people they think of as their property; those people are living in freedom for the first time, and fighting to preserve it; there are progressives who want to help them, and religious extremists who want to wipe them out; the norm majority are conflicted, fearful and easily manipulated. It’s an explosive mix. Events pivot around the gems’ charismatic leader, Aryel Morningstar – a woman whose origins and abilities are shrouded in mystery, and who is loved and feared in equal measure. Continue reading
I’m a big fan of Stephanie Saulter’s Revolution series. The first novel, Gemsigns, was released in the UK last year. The wait is nearly over for US readers, though, as it will be hitting shelves in May. It also has a different cover:
Here’s the synopsis…
For years a deadly syndrome that targeted adolescents threatened to decimate the human race, but a cure was ultimately developed by altering the human genome. The corporations that invented the cure then began to use the process to genetically engineer an entirely new class of workers. Known as Gems, these modified humans were physically and mentally adapted for jobs that could not be undertaken by normal human beings, and branded with a gemsign: glowing, neon-coloured hair or some other visible difference, engineered into their anatomy, forever setting them apart from the Norms they were bred to serve.
Now, decades later, the Gems are fighting for their rights, and for freedom from the companies that created them. As violence begins to threaten the severely stratified society, an international conference is scheduled to decide this critical civil rights issue once and for all. In advance of the conference, Dr. Eli Walker has been commissioned to gather detailed findings on the Gems. As an apolitical, nonpartisan figure in the debate, Walker’s analysis promises to be pivotal in deciding the fate of the Gems.
But with vast corporate profits at stake, and with the bloodthirsty religious zealots of the Godgangs determined to rid the earth of these “unholy” creations, the Gems are in a fight for their very lives against violent and powerful adversaries who will stop at nothing to keep them enslaved forever.
I had, by any definition, an unusual childhood – I grew up in what was then a fairly remote corner of rural Jamaica, beautiful but quite isolated, in a resolutely free-thinking, non-conformist family. I have seven siblings so I wasn’t exactly lonely; but being the eldest, a voracious reader and not particularly gregarious, I never really felt I fitted in to the neighbourhood. Books were my escape hatch, my window into different times and places and worlds. They were how I worked out who I was, what I was interested in, what lay beyond the horizon.
The power of story to capture your imagination and alter your thinking and take you somewhere else had a profound effect on who I grew up to be, long before I became a writer of stories myself. And because so many stories celebrate the outsider, the loner, the person who is always second to the right of everyone else, I think they helped to reassure me that being a bit odd and a bit different was okay. You can be the hero of your own life, and it doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s life. I learned that early, and I learned it from books. Continue reading
For years the human race was under attack from a deadly Syndrome, but when a cure was found – in the form of genetically engineered human beings, Gems – the line between survival and ethics was radically altered.
Now the Gems are fighting for their freedom, from the oppression of the companies that created them, and against the Norms who see them as slaves. And a conference at which Dr Eli Walker has been commissioned to present his findings on the Gems is the key to that freedom.
But with the Gemtech companies fighting to keep the Gems enslaved, and the horrifying godgangs determined to rid the earth of these ‘unholy’ creations, the Gems are up against forces that may just be too powerful to oppose.
I didn’t actually know anything about this novel, before I started it. Nevertheless, during a moment of book-funk, I browsed my TBR shelf, selected three books and Gemsigns had by far the best opening page. And the best second, third, and onwards. I soon found I was a few chapters in, and I couldn’t stop reading. I really enjoyed this novel. Continue reading
Today, I get to share with you an excerpt (the first chapter) from Stephanie Saulter’s excellent debut, GEMSIGNS. The first novel in the ®Evolution series, I’ve almost finished reading it, and have thoroughly enjoyed it (review next week). Read on… Continue reading