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Saulter presents 'Gemsigns' tomorrow

Published:Wednesday | June 12, 2013 | 12:00 AM
The cover of Stephanie Saulter's debut novel, 'Gemsigns'. - Contributed

Stephanie Saulter, sister of Jamaican film director Storm Saulter, weaves a thought-provoking narrative around issues of difference, post-Emancipation politics and family in her debut science fiction novel, Gemsigns. The novel's Jamaican launch will be held at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at Bookophilia, 92 Hope Road, Kingston 6. Books will be available for purchase at the event, which is free and open to the public.

Stephanie Saulter has been a real estate developer, restaurant manager, corporate executive, public policy enthusiast, management consultant and web app entrepreneur. She will be in the store for a reading and discussion of the novel.

Gemsigns is set in the near future, after a devastating global pandemic. The 'Syndrome', a neurological disease, has swept across the globe, killing millions. National squabbles are put aside, as a worldwide search for a cure begins. The solution is genetic engineering. Resistance to the Syndrome is bred into future generations; genetic disease and disability become a thing of the past.


Humanity is saved. Or is it?

Still, genetic modification continues. With a generation destroyed, a huge workforce is now required - and quickly. Genetically modified humans, known as gems, become more extreme, more tailored to specific jobs. Intellectual property rights laws are twisted to give direct ownership of the gems to gemtech corporations, the creators of the 'product', the gems, who in turn are little more than slaves.

A two-tier society is created, but this sustained oppression is untenable in the long-term, giving birth to the Declaration, a treaty that gives gems their freedom and some basic rights.

The gems are free, but mistrusted. Are they human, sub-human or superhuman? And who decides? The question of what it means to be human is brought to the fore, not only for the oppressed, but also for those who have sought to, and have been successful in oppressing.

Are they still human? Have the ill-intent and twisted actions of some distorted their own humanity? Which group is truly monstrous? It is an interesting issue to be explored when a society, through its actions, seeks to devalue the importance of human expression and liberty.

Stephanie Saulter has managed to continue the discussion on age-old issues, highlighting the political, economic, religious and ethical vantage points.

Gemsigns is published by Jo Fletcher Books in London (an imprint of Quercus Publishing) and is the first novel in a trilogy. Binary will follow in April 2014.