May 29, 2024

CRISPR goes rogue

Released this week, “Change Agent” is a sci-fi thriller about genetic modification

You know that CRISPR and gene editing have gone mainstream when they are the subjects of an airport thriller. The latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Daniel Suarez is called Change Agent and deals with shadowy criminal gangs who battle for control of genetic modification in the year 2045. From the blurb:

In 2045 Kenneth Durand leads Interpol’s most effective team against genetic crime, hunting down black market labs that perform “vanity edits” on human embryos for a price. These illegal procedures augment embryos in ways that are rapidly accelerating human evolution—preying on human-trafficking victims to experiment and advance their technology.

With the worlds of genetic crime and human trafficking converging, Durand and his fellow Interpol agents discover that one figure looms behind it all: Marcus Demang Wyckes, leader of a powerful and sophisticated cartel known as the Huli jing.

But the Huli jing have identified Durand, too. After being forcibly dosed with a radical new change agent, Durand wakes from a coma weeks later to find he’s been genetically transformed into someone else—his most wanted suspect: Wyckes.

Now a fugitive, pursued through the genetic underworld by his former colleagues and the police, Durand is determined to restore his original DNA by locating the source of the mysterious—and highly valuable—change agent. But Durand hasn’t anticipated just how difficult locating his enemy will be. With the technology to genetically edit the living, Wyckes and his Huli jing could be anyone and everyone—and they have plans to undermine identity itself.

Why 2045? Given the pace of change, 2025 seems a more likely date.

Find out for yourself: it will be released on April 18.
Creative commons
genetic engineering