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4.6 out of 5
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Gene Mapper PDF, ePub eBook In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world's food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage. Hayashida travels Asia to find himself in Ho Chi Minh City with hired-gun hacker Kitamura at his In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world's food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage. Hayashida travels Asia to find himself in Ho Chi Minh City with hired-gun hacker Kitamura at his side—and in mortal danger—as he pushes ever nearer to the heart of the mystery.

30 review for Gene Mapper

  1. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    3.5. Really I would have given this a 4 except the writing towards the end seemed both confusing and the final scene with the 'bad guys' was a bit slap stick. Maybe it was the translation? I enjoyed the story and found the science interesting. although I know nothing about coding or augmented reality platforms I could follow the ideas fairly well. I would read this author again.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Victor Tatarskii

    Great Japanese hard bio-Sci-Fi (although with somewhat weak dialogs and characters). In 2030s, after blight eradicated all cultivated rice in Asia, triggering world famine, agriculture depends solely on GM crops. But people are still suspicious of new technology, and when a new strain of bestselling rice starts to show unexpected behavior a team of biologists must race against the clock before it becomes a media catastrophe. I never encountered Japanese science fiction before and "Gene Mapper" is Great Japanese hard bio-Sci-Fi (although with somewhat weak dialogs and characters). In 2030s, after blight eradicated all cultivated rice in Asia, triggering world famine, agriculture depends solely on GM crops. But people are still suspicious of new technology, and when a new strain of bestselling rice starts to show unexpected behavior a team of biologists must race against the clock before it becomes a media catastrophe. I never encountered Japanese science fiction before and "Gene Mapper" is a very pleasant surprise. First of all it's perfectly researched - technologies of Taiyo's world in 2030s are very possible to exist by then (or already exist in some form now) - it's more of a speculative fiction than traditional sci-fi. The book maintains the tension and pace almost to the very end, and although the ending is a bit naive, it ties all the plot lines in a very satisfying manner. The strong side of the "Gene MApper" is also the reason for it's weaknesses, as the author spends a lot more time explaining how something works, compared to character development. Nevertheless it's an unique science detective, and I hope other Fujii's works would also get translated.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Hurlock

    Just finished this book last night. Definitely a great story, fantastic concept and well written. The first person was awkward at times, this is also not my preferred style of writing for fantasy and sci-fi, it's difficult for the author to explain the futuristic technology and any social differences without seriously detracting from the story being told. That didn't happen in this story, but that did mean up until about half way through the book I was still guessing and fuzzy on what some of the Just finished this book last night. Definitely a great story, fantastic concept and well written. The first person was awkward at times, this is also not my preferred style of writing for fantasy and sci-fi, it's difficult for the author to explain the futuristic technology and any social differences without seriously detracting from the story being told. That didn't happen in this story, but that did mean up until about half way through the book I was still guessing and fuzzy on what some of the things being referred to were, or the backstory behind the world being given to us as readers, by the end of the book I still didn't have a firm grasp on quite a bit of the goings on, just enough to muddle through. I hope there's more to come, I definitely enjoyed the story, though I would prefer 3rd person writing for future installments.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacqie

    I'd give this book a really high rating for the concepts it introduces, but a low rating on it holding my interest. This book reminds me a lot of old-school cyberpunk. Our gene mapper main character is responsible for getting a genetically engineered field of rice to reflect the logo and certifications of the company that engineered it through changes in the plant pigmentation. This is a company that has enough money to burn that it wants its rice field to be its own visual advertisement. Howeve I'd give this book a really high rating for the concepts it introduces, but a low rating on it holding my interest. This book reminds me a lot of old-school cyberpunk. Our gene mapper main character is responsible for getting a genetically engineered field of rice to reflect the logo and certifications of the company that engineered it through changes in the plant pigmentation. This is a company that has enough money to burn that it wants its rice field to be its own visual advertisement. However, there's a problem with the pigments fritzing out and not working correctly and to keep himself out of trouble he needs to figure out who's responsible. This book also delves into the idea of augmented reality platforms and how people use them to communicate and do business. You can go to an agreed upon virtual office and either use an off-the-shelf avatar that will hide your facial expressions and interact correctly with the environment automatically or you can put a digital version of yourself into the environment- very impressive, but if you don't know how to interact with that environment you could end up bowing your face into a table or something- going from impressive to embarrassing. Yet another idea is that the internet messed up badly and now exists as a very safe and limited, even curated environment. Data divers can still find old data that was sunk out of sight during the previous disaster, though. So there are lots and lots of concepts getting thrown out, and they are interesting. However, the writing was dense enough that it didn't seem that there was much of a story going, more a sequence of different concepts getting thrown at me in big infodumps. One such dump, about the genetic manipulation of rice to express color characteristics, made my eyes glaze over and also made me feel kind of dumb for not getting what the writer was talking about. So, good concepts, poor story execution( at least to me and my current ability to concentrate). Also, this is a book that's pretty much all male- we've had an annoying female journalist and a subservient cute waitress, and it feels like this is the way it's going to go. I might try another book by this author, with some caution and after I've checked out the topic.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    It was very interesting but never got bogged down in the technical stuff. It had a good pace but didn't feel mad-capped. The end was optimistic, maybe a bit unrealistic, but a nice change from all of the apocalyptic stuff so many authors are putting out these days. Not that it was some pie-in-the sky, we fixed the world just like that, ending. It wasn't like that, it was just about how they handled the one thing that was relevant to their investigation and how it turned out. I found the Japanese It was very interesting but never got bogged down in the technical stuff. It had a good pace but didn't feel mad-capped. The end was optimistic, maybe a bit unrealistic, but a nice change from all of the apocalyptic stuff so many authors are putting out these days. Not that it was some pie-in-the sky, we fixed the world just like that, ending. It wasn't like that, it was just about how they handled the one thing that was relevant to their investigation and how it turned out. I found the Japanese author's view of America and the American military discouraging, as usual when I read a book from a non-American author's point of view. This was seen from the many, many Vietnamese people who were still crippled and suffering seventy years after the Americans used Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. And in the programming of the salvaged US Ground Forces biochemical warfare suits Kurokawa and Mamoru get to use as clean suits for going out in to the field to collect samples of the intruder. "Leave it to the Americans to use love as a motivation tool for soldiers while challenging insects to declare whether they are with you or against you." But that's the world we've made for ourselves. It sure isn't the world I thought it was when I was growing up, it's very depressing. But the book wasn't, it was a smooth, well-paced, interesting story. I can see why it took off when it was originally an Amazon Japan kindle serial and why it was nominated for several major awards when it was published as a complete novel. There wasn't a lot of character development. I can't comment on the translation really except that I wondered about a few things. For instance, I've read that Asians find being described as having almond shaped eyes to be offensive, so I wonder if that's actually what the author said. But being what it is, I thought it was interesting and a lot of fun, and I'm glad I had a chance to read it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lin

    3.5 stars. Japanese detective story wrapped in a science veneer. I liked the way the science issues were explored. There were some translation issues and I think it would have been better to read in the original Japanese.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Reija

    An interesting and quite engaging story filled with some noteworthy ideas about tech. Unfortunately the execution was hampered by poor understanding of how the opsec and infrastructure of such ideas would plausibly work and that really pushed my enjoyment level down. The characterizations of the crew of characters also felt a bit flat. This really felt like a first attempt at novel writing, which is understandable considering that it's a debut. Valiant effort, want to read more from this author, b An interesting and quite engaging story filled with some noteworthy ideas about tech. Unfortunately the execution was hampered by poor understanding of how the opsec and infrastructure of such ideas would plausibly work and that really pushed my enjoyment level down. The characterizations of the crew of characters also felt a bit flat. This really felt like a first attempt at novel writing, which is understandable considering that it's a debut. Valiant effort, want to read more from this author, but ultimately this book didn't quite hit the target.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amber M. McCarter

    This was sort of a teaser... almost touching on really fascinating potential future technology, but not quite. The tech and some of its practical applications were ntroduced, and then not delved into with any possible theories, not even of the made up variety. Disappointing. This would have been a four star if the author had even attempted to go a little deeper.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    I didn't think I'd ever read a science fiction book about genetically engineered rice, augmented reality, and grasshopper terrorism, and yet here I am. this book broke all my expectations. I enjoyed it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Neilam

    I enjoyed the near-future/spec-fic premises explored here - both tech and bio concepts, with a slice of culture and day-to-day life.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan Prevas

    Japanese Michael Crichton. A bit technological but races along at a great clip.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    A cracking techno-thriller from Japan. A "style-sheet" designer for a synthetic rice is scapegoated when the latest, and high profile, crop starts to spontaneously change to the wrong colour. The author has a bold vision of the future which I found only slightly implausible; just let it go for a snappy read. Perhaps some of the characterisation was lost in translation and in the wonder of technology - another story or two in this universe with these characters could help flesh them out. (view spoi A cracking techno-thriller from Japan. A "style-sheet" designer for a synthetic rice is scapegoated when the latest, and high profile, crop starts to spontaneously change to the wrong colour. The author has a bold vision of the future which I found only slightly implausible; just let it go for a snappy read. Perhaps some of the characterisation was lost in translation and in the wonder of technology - another story or two in this universe with these characters could help flesh them out. (view spoiler)[Specifically the augment reality, as described, is very invasive and can hinder rather than enhance one's perception of the real world. Who'd want that? (hide spoiler)]

  13. 5 out of 5

    Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    Hard SF, with a cyberpunk vibe but an interesting in genomics rather than the hackers of the 1980s we associated with William Gibson. So if you used to like that kind of book you'll enjoy this. Smart is the best way to define it. Also, a quick read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    astaliegurec

    Taiyo Fujii's "Gene Mapper" is an interesting book with some problems. I'm not sure if the issues I have with the book are translation issues or perhaps cultural differences between the US and Japan. But, most of them are not the usual "bad writing" things I see in other books. Anyway, again, the book is interesting. But: - The author tends to have his characters focus on extraneous things instead of the important things. There are an awful lot of points where I was scratching my head, thinking " Taiyo Fujii's "Gene Mapper" is an interesting book with some problems. I'm not sure if the issues I have with the book are translation issues or perhaps cultural differences between the US and Japan. But, most of them are not the usual "bad writing" things I see in other books. Anyway, again, the book is interesting. But: - The author tends to have his characters focus on extraneous things instead of the important things. There are an awful lot of points where I was scratching my head, thinking "something big just happened...., why is he talking about coffee (or something), instead?" Similarly, he tends to focus too much on the technologies he's using at the expense of the plot. - Even though the protagonist knows his stuff, there are several points where he's just clueless about things that should be in his milieu. - The company involved is one of, if not THE, biggest companies in its field. The project in question is the most important project for not just the company, but for the industry and the world. Yet, when our characters visit the project, the company hasn't provided it with things it needs. Heck, the protagonist shows up with some stuff he got in town that's far better than what the company has. - The author actually over-uses technology. Changing a plant's genome to display logo information in a field? Why not put up a sign? A hazard suit that uses Artificial Reality as its SOLE source of input to its wearer and manipulates his emotions so he has no idea if what he's seeing or feeling is real? Why? So, the best I can rate the book is a mere OK 3 stars out of 5.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maverynthia

    I started to read this and was inundated with technobabble about some strain of rice. Then we get people calling a woman doing her job a bitch as well as saying that Google somehow caused the internet to die out completely and it's replaced with TruNet. We get sentences that invoke images of abuse that involve "spanking" Mother, which is some kind of computer system or something? They also go on at length about 32-bit dates causing the end of the world VS 64-bit dates and 128-bit dates. My head I started to read this and was inundated with technobabble about some strain of rice. Then we get people calling a woman doing her job a bitch as well as saying that Google somehow caused the internet to die out completely and it's replaced with TruNet. We get sentences that invoke images of abuse that involve "spanking" Mother, which is some kind of computer system or something? They also go on at length about 32-bit dates causing the end of the world VS 64-bit dates and 128-bit dates. My head started hurting form all the bullshit when they said that gene mapping was as easy as XML sheets. No really it's called gXML. Then they are wondering why their crops are growing all funny. I got to about 11% before my mind just noped out of the book. The author just didn't do the research on things combined with the misogyny I just ain't having it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Sinclair

    A very enjoyable sci-fi that wasn't like anything I'd read before. There were some very interesting concepts in it, though I think some of the science went straight over my head, as I honestly couldn't tell you how realistic or outlandish they were. I had a few issues understanding the story, but I think that was just a result of the things that get lost in translation. I'd definitely be interested in reading a follow up to see what developments come from how the book ended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Herman

    Science fictions at its peak. Transporting us into the future, while throwing the dystopia off the cliff. Taiyo Fujii paint the future with words, and capture the essence of locations as the book plays out. He places faith in our species making the right moves, as new technology emerges from darkness. 237. Pages gone in a Blizz, this book was a beautiful read. Thanks to Jim Hubbert for the translation, and keeping the "tone".

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica DiFelice (thefanaticreader)

    I really enjoyed this novel! The jargon took a bit to get used to, but the world that was created was intriguing, and plausible, and scary. The concepts of gene mapping, and engineered, "distilled" crops, were super cool, and I liked the fast pace of this novel as well. Can't wait to read more from this author. 3.5/5 stars

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Bennett

    Great book about technology and food production. The writing may through some readers off, but it reminded of me manga animated movies that I have seen (note - I have not seen many of them). Really liked the ending and how it developed. Looking forward to reading Taiyo Fuljii's other works.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Derek Berg

    Smart. Entertaining. I enjoyed the heck out of this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Puritz

    Had a Snow Crash-of-biopunk-lite feel to it. Please let there be more of this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book took some time to catch my interest, but the further in I got, the more complex the story became, and the ending was both unexpected and satisfying.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Keizen Li Qian

    I relished the geekiness of this near future depiction. I found the mystery solving action fell rather flat at the end, though.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Doni Tonga

    Extra!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    When it comes to east Asian literature, Taiyo Fujii understood exactly how to please this former otaku into having a delightful experience as she also contemplated how the worlds of bio/chem could make life better for all of humanity. This novel is about engineering Super Rice around Ho Chi Minh City, a Super Rice which has enough nutrients that you don't need anything else, and which grows in dirty water. Since rice doesn't have very many nutrients on its own, the idea absolutely thrilled me. Thi When it comes to east Asian literature, Taiyo Fujii understood exactly how to please this former otaku into having a delightful experience as she also contemplated how the worlds of bio/chem could make life better for all of humanity. This novel is about engineering Super Rice around Ho Chi Minh City, a Super Rice which has enough nutrients that you don't need anything else, and which grows in dirty water. Since rice doesn't have very many nutrients on its own, the idea absolutely thrilled me. This science fiction novel scared me by presenting the possibility of an automatic Behavior Correction being implemented across society, possibly as a chemical put in the water, though that was not in the book, I'm just making a guess how that could work in a way as written. Aren't we allowed to behave the way we dictate, given that we've slept, eaten, exercised enough, and so on? Then again, perhaps the idea is that you shouldn't have to worry about how to behave, just follow, like, the Emily Post guidelines. Or, now it's her granddaughter, I think. Or like, the best friend of her granddaughter's second wife thrice-removed. Something kooky like that. It's a long story. What I liked most about this novel was its emphasis on research and development: all the Gene Development data. I also liked the little design above each unnumbered chapter. What a fascinating story! I'll probably come back to it and find something new next time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Hayashida is a gene mapper who designed the appearance of a new variety of super rice, SR06, ensuring that the company's logos and certifications show on the field. When SR06 starts mutating, Hayashida's head could be on the chopping block unless he can figure out what's happening. More importantly it could mean widespread public distrust of designed crops - and using high-yield disease-resistant designed crops is the only way to feed the world's population. Suspecting first a collection error a Hayashida is a gene mapper who designed the appearance of a new variety of super rice, SR06, ensuring that the company's logos and certifications show on the field. When SR06 starts mutating, Hayashida's head could be on the chopping block unless he can figure out what's happening. More importantly it could mean widespread public distrust of designed crops - and using high-yield disease-resistant designed crops is the only way to feed the world's population. Suspecting first a collection error and then sabotage, Hayashida finds himself in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with his businessman contractor Kurokawa and a hired hacker Yagodo. Well-hidden clues lead the trio to the Cambodian rice fields where SR06 is grown, deep within the abandoned Internet, and of course into danger. I really enjoyed this book! It did feel a little juvenile and simplistic, and I think it would work well for a YA audience (though it's good at an adult level, too). The science is cool and near-future. The distilled crops seems like a natural extension of current GMO crops, and I appreciate that they're accepted as the future and a positive thing, although there are still environmental protestors and the main characters know that if they can't figure out what is causing the mutation then public opinion may be soured. The collapse of the internet is a neat idea, although the rise of the "TrueNet" after that where only authorized sites/programs are allowed seems a bit farfetched and authoritarian in a world that didn't seem particularly big-brother-esque. I liked the characters, though they weren't really the point of this story (aside from maybe Hayashida) and we get very little information about them outside of their relation to this plot. No background, no family life, little in the way of interests or character traits. But I don't think that's the point of this book. It was very tied up at the end; every plot strand was completed and all questions were precisely answered. I think most readers would have been open to a less conspicuously complete ending. For instance, in the last couple pages of the 3rd to last chapter a particular aspect of one of the characters that called their behavior into question earlier in the story was bluntly explained. It's just too clean. I did run into a problem I've had with translated novels before, where I wonder if certain aspects are in the original novel or they occurred in the translation process. There's an attitude present that strikes me as uniquely Japanese - though I could be way off - a politeness/respectfulness or something... almost demure. Definitely something that felt different and non-American, no charging ahead or bombasism (I'm not sure that's a word, but I'm sticking with it). I'd recommend this novel to anyone who likes environmental science fiction, anyone interested in Japanese SF, fans of Neuromancer, Neal Stephenson's older bio-punk stuff (like Zodiac) or Snow Crash, or The Windup Girl. It's nice to read some new bio/cyber-punk that isn't 1000 pages long or overdone. This feels fresh, new, and uncomplicated. It has a mid-level of violence - some fighting but not all that much content on the page, no sexual content and not much language. This would definitely be appropriate for high schoolers, though any younger may find the story a bit complex.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    In the world of Gene Mapper, much of the world's natural crops have fallen to a blight called Red Rust, leading to a rise in genetically engineered foods. Mamoru Hayashida is a gene mapper who works for a company, L&B, developing Super Rice 6, or SR06. Only the field of SR06 that's been planted appears to have some sort of invader, which could spell trouble not only for L&B, or Mamoru's career, but genetically engineered (or in L&B's preferred nomenclature, genetically distilled) pla In the world of Gene Mapper, much of the world's natural crops have fallen to a blight called Red Rust, leading to a rise in genetically engineered foods. Mamoru Hayashida is a gene mapper who works for a company, L&B, developing Super Rice 6, or SR06. Only the field of SR06 that's been planted appears to have some sort of invader, which could spell trouble not only for L&B, or Mamoru's career, but genetically engineered (or in L&B's preferred nomenclature, genetically distilled) plants entirely. It's Mamoru's job, with the help of Takashi (a victim of a side effect of L&B's super rice zero), to figure out who and what the invader is and whether or not they can stop it. It's a high-tech mystery, a whodunit of virtual reality proportions. I think it's the translation that hinder this book for me. It's as if something is being lost in going from Japanese to English, and I have a certain sense of being lost. I really like Fujii's concept of augmented reality, using AR stages for conversations and work and broadcasts and all kinds of things, but I don't really understand how it works. I can see someone entering an AR Stage and seeing the augmented reality, but what would someone not on any stage see them doing? They're talking and moving in their stage, sometimes having private conversations, and so wouldn't they be talking and moving in the real world as well? I guess I don't understand the privacy factor of that, just as an example. And again, I think this is partly due to the translation. The worldbuilding, while interesting, is not very clear in english, and more difficult to really engage with. In another part of the book, Mamoru goes into the SR06 field wearing a special suit that has a weird kind of emotional control built in. The 'augmented reality' turns into a real hindrance, but that whole portion just makes no sense to me. I don't understand why they're wearing the suits in the first place--maybe to prevent contaminating the field, though I'm not sure with what, if the genetically distilled rice is supposed to be so stable--but also, I really don't understand why they would need or even want emotional control in the first place. That just makes no logical sense when you look at how it completely derailed Mamoru's mission. The only purpose I can see it serving is a plot point that reveals Takashi's true nature, which really, it needs to make sense on the surface as well as move the plot forward. Thumbs down. I found the ending to be a little forced, but I won't go into that here because spoilers. I appreciate the effort to provide an ending that isn't just black/white everything's-fixed-now-everything's-ok but this one just didn't work well for me. Overall though, if you don't mind feeling a little lost in a sea of buzzwords, it's not a bad read. I think a lot of other fantasy and scifi I've read has primed me to be okay with not necessarily understanding everything that's going on, though I like clarity more. It's a fun read on it's own, and high-concept, which is always nice. But somehow it also doesn't necessarily stand out to me. Not bad; but not necessarily great, either.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ondrej Urban

    Given that I rarely go for hard sci-fi, this book seemed the "hardest of hard" to me - futuristic ideas piling on futuristic ideas, crossing the boundaries between the fields. And all that without a sole mention of rockets or space. Gene Mapper reads well and it rarely allows you to take a breath and just be there for a ride - every sentence, every word comes with a purpose, either to explain a concept or to push the story ahead. I have encountered many of the concepts before and felt, at times, Given that I rarely go for hard sci-fi, this book seemed the "hardest of hard" to me - futuristic ideas piling on futuristic ideas, crossing the boundaries between the fields. And all that without a sole mention of rockets or space. Gene Mapper reads well and it rarely allows you to take a breath and just be there for a ride - every sentence, every word comes with a purpose, either to explain a concept or to push the story ahead. I have encountered many of the concepts before and felt, at times, that it made the reading easier, such as in the case of the 2038 apocalypse. Given the "hardness" of this sci-fi book, the characters take the back seat in terms of personality and development. They hang around, talk, but mostly get pushed around in the way to reveal the most interesting idea next. At times I was reminded of Asimov's books and his staple of two men sitting in a room talking - although Gene Mapper uses many of the modern ideas like diversity or female characters that behave like real women and not just increase the headcount or wait to be rescued. The issues I had with this story was, at times, the clumsiness of the language (which might just have been the effect of translation). Additionally, the characters sometimes "fall out of character" and do something abrupt, not in the sense of snapping, as people sometimes do, but more like "my word count is getting dangerously high and I don't have time to argue my way to what needs to happen". Finally, I was of course, at times, bothered by the actual science at times. This may be the reason why I prefer fantasy - (hard) sci-fi sometimes tries too much and falls into unrealistic ideas. Of course I realize that fully inventing things in a fiction book is tough at the least, but I don't like being able to point to the story and show that things can't work like that. I guess personally, I'd prefer wizard's staff and warp engines to semi-plausible but inherently flawed ideas. For the rest, there is the Wired magazine :) Gene Mapper is a fresh and nontraditional sci-fi that's very much "in this world" and discusses ideas that are maybe more tangible than what's usually being talked about. In addition, it offers a perspective of a different culture with no Bruce Willises or similar - and expanding our world view is always a plus.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Allan Dyen-Shapiro

    I bought this book from the author at his table at WorldCon, having heard of it via the review on io9. The promo material says this was originally published indie, and it shows. It breaks virtually every rule of what's supposed to be publishable in science fiction. There is very little action. In the entire first section of the book, the only two plot points are that something is growing on the genetically engineered crops and that means the protagonist is asked to fly to Vietnam. That's it. And I bought this book from the author at his table at WorldCon, having heard of it via the review on io9. The promo material says this was originally published indie, and it shows. It breaks virtually every rule of what's supposed to be publishable in science fiction. There is very little action. In the entire first section of the book, the only two plot points are that something is growing on the genetically engineered crops and that means the protagonist is asked to fly to Vietnam. That's it. And the novel wasn't so big on character development either. This was a completely idea-driven novel. I loved it. Having worked for a lot of my career in plant biotech and having dabbled a bit with computers, I was probably the ideal reader for this book, as I could appreciate how much care was taken into making the science plausible. And this book was written by a non-scientist author! One big idea comes hitting right after another. The Internet crashed in 2020 and had to be replaced with a more secure version. Salvagers make their living by hacking into cached versions of the Internet. All business meetings are held in augmented reality. Personality correction software keeps Japanese businessmen from embarrassing faux pas. Synthetic biology has advanced to the point that an entire plant genome can be synthesized and imprinted into an embryo. And that's all in the first few pages. Fujii forwards a hypothesis common among practicing scientists but not one I've seen in fiction before: genetic engineering is a given, the only way to feed the world; those seeking natural alternatives are misguided, but a break on the actions of incompetent and/or unscrupulous corporate scientists is necessary but unlikely to be provided by reporters or government. Not for a minute does Fujii allow the reader to slip into stock sequences--even the fight scene is in augmented reality with characters running multiple avatars. So, if you are looking for a conventional hero's journey or a protagonist who grows and changes as a character or character relationships that are deeper than the core plot (which is mostly characters discussing science and telling each other stuff), this book isn't for you. But for riveting, non-stop extension of ideas steeped in realistic scientific speculation, this book is hard to beat.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Guy L. Pace

    I met Taiyo at the World Science Fiction Convention this summer in Spokane, WA. He served on a few panels and I found him to be a gracious person. Gene Mapper was originally written in Japanese in 2012 and published serially on the Japanese Amazon. In 2013, it was picked up by a publisher and released. Gene Mapper is a solid, well-constructed hard science fiction in the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. It is set in a not-to-distant future where the human population is such that g I met Taiyo at the World Science Fiction Convention this summer in Spokane, WA. He served on a few panels and I found him to be a gracious person. Gene Mapper was originally written in Japanese in 2012 and published serially on the Japanese Amazon. In 2013, it was picked up by a publisher and released. Gene Mapper is a solid, well-constructed hard science fiction in the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. It is set in a not-to-distant future where the human population is such that growing enough food requires genetic modification. The main character, Mamoru Takashi, is a freelance gene mapper and "style sheet developer" who gets involved in a massive project that somehow goes wrong. The science is sound and Taiyo does a creditable job of wrapping a story around a very complex and controversial topic. He also gives us an excellent view of a future East Asia, including Vietnam, painting social and political tones across his fictional landscape that ring true and add vibrant realism to the story. I also found the characters interesting, but I won't spoil the story getting to deep into it here. One, though, is Barnhard. I've worked with people like him. Mercurial and difficult, and no matter how much or how hard I worked at trying to educate and inform them, they continue to spout the "script" written by the PR types. I studied Japanese language in the 1970's and wish I had continued to learn. It would be interesting to read this in the original Japanese and compete it to the translated work, which I an reviewing here. Jim Hubbert is the translator and he did yeoman's work making it all come together. I strongly recommend this read and look forward to Taiyo's next books, Orbital Cloud, Underground Market, and Bigdata Connect when they are available in translation.

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