Review of Karen Wyle’s Science Fiction Novel Twin Bred
In Karen Wyle’s science fiction novel, Twin Bred, humans have been living on a distant planet called Tofran for seventy years and have yet to find a way to communicate with the native species, the Tofa.
The Tofa don’t communicate through words, their faces are featureless so reading their expressions is out of the question and they emit odd smells at seemingly random times. Due to miscommunications and confusion, tensions between the two groups have been growing and the council is desperate for any sort of intervention. Scientist Mara Cadell, who has an obsession with twins after learning she lost a twin brother in utero, thinks she has the answer. Her plan is to implant one human embryo and one alien embryo into host mothers. With the hope of using the scientific fact that twins have special ways of communicating between each other, Mara sets out to create special sets of twins specifically designed to bridge the gap between the two species.
Unfortunately, no matter how carefully engineered the experiment was, Mara couldn’t control certain important elements such as human ignorance and prejudices. As outside influences try to destroy the work she has dedicated her life to she starts to question the morality of her actions while trying to push through to achieve their one true goal of unification.
I have to say that Twin Bred is more science than I’m used to but Wyle handled the explanations, details and intricacies of the plot dealing with breeding people and aliens together quite well. Details concerning the sociological and psychological consequences of inseminating women with both human and alien embryos as well as the effects on the children themselves were carefully handled within the story. Wyle’s writing was meticulous in order to help even non sci-fi readers, such as myself, understand the specifics of the experiments without having it go over her reader’s heads.
The relationship between Mara and Levi was an interesting twist to the story and I think it really kicked up the psychological aspect of the story. I actually wish there was more time dedicated to their relationship. Wyle infused the story with a number of different characters to give a fuller and more detailed look at all the players involved in the experiment, (the scientists, the neighboring Tofa, the government officials, the twin bred, the host mothers, civilians) however at times it became too many points of view. By reading up on everyone’s stance on what was going on around them some of the characters who started out strong, like Laura, a host mother, lost steam as the story progressed.
However, with that said I found Mara to be a well developed and strong character. I loved how Levi was her voice of reason and the moments at the end of the novel involving her, Levi and the Tofa were tenderly moving.
Using science, psychology, and good intentions Wyle put together an interesting, thought-provoking read that any science fiction fan will love.