The collection, ‘A Common Thread’, delivers science-inspired fiction that provides insight into the processes of undertaking science in contemporary society, all situated within a light thriller framework. A mixture of genetic science and environmentally aware speculative fiction is presented in the form of three novelettes, two short stories and a novella. The collection is thematically linked as it speculates and raises concerns on the processes, morals and ethics of modern and future-facing science, through contemporary issues of genetics and the environment.
In ‘The Commuter Lab’, an under-employed science graduate, Peter McAvoy, finds himself caught up in an illegal, real-world genetic experiment, trapped between a covert governmental organisation and a fringe group of genome hackers.
‘The Nature of Transitory Disappearance: Bella’s Tale’, is an environmental thriller centred on a former scientist-turned-journalist’s investigation into the activities and movement of an illegally registered tanker. Bella has tracked the vessel, with its cargo of hazardous waste across the globe through its many name and registration changes, culminating it seems, in a passage across the North Sea. To gather the evidence she needs to bring the operators to account, Bella hires a local captain to take her to a location somewhere off Dogger Bank.
Jake Balfe is a disillusioned junior doctor. In ‘The Patient Experiment’, he tries to escape an ethical decision that has blighted his fledgling medical career. Jake seeks solace and purpose in a new post as a researcher in a long-term care facility that specialises in the clinical examination of near-death studies.
‘The Nature of Transitory Disappearance: Dom’s Tale’, is located in the North Yorkshire coastal village of Staithes. Dom, an environmental scientist, encounters a rare phenomenon of wildlife displacement during a field trip to the well-known seaside village. This event sets him on a path to the mystery surrounding an environmental journalist, some twenty years earlier.
In ‘NUCA: Beginnings in vivo’, a research scientist, Conor McCormack, returns to his Liverpool roots to complete an experiment that could change the nature of humankind forever, in an imaginative leap for Homo sapiens’ genome. Conor and NUCA’s interwoven story is set in an environment of genetic manipulation, human endeavour and synthetic biology.
The novella, ‘A Common Thread’, follows a seasoned anthropological researcher, Judith Catchpole, as she is seconded to a micro-biological project in unusual circumstances: she finds that her analytical skills are not the only thing the experiment requires of her. Judith is manipulated by an unscrupulous professor into being both a research assistant, and a component in the research project.