A rogue black-ops military organization experiments with the resurrection and cloning of Neanderthals, using both ancient DNA from archaeological sites and DNA harvested from an unsuspecting scientist. This black-ops group partners with a military contractor, which uses a law firm as a front to shield its covert bio-genetic experiments from the public and the press.
The scientist’s identity and rare genetics is uncovered by one of the pathologists at the morgue where the scientist’s previously unidentified body was delivered after a seemingly random mugging. Realizing the significance of the rare genetic make-up of the unidentified corpse, the pathologist’s interest in paleo-anthropology prompts him to investigate the scientist’s background, leading him to team-up with the playboy grandson of the military contractor, who’s simply trying to wrest his inheritance from the grips of corporate lawyers.
Meanwhile, at a secret, isolated research facility in the desert, another scientist is forced to continue the cloning effort. He manages to relay a message to the outside world detailing the facts about the secret project. However, it was not in time to stop the rogue group from implanting Neanderthal zygotes in at least one unsuspecting surrogate mother.
Relic is a fast paced science fiction thriller that explores the possibility of resurrecting and weaponizing an extinct species (Neanderthals). Imagine a scenario in which some rogue, black-ops faction of the military attempts to clone Neanderthals in order to create a superior soldier. This rogue military group, working with a military contractor, inadvertently unleash a past that should have remained extinct. The intriguing storyline shares some fascinating anthropological and biological insights and explores the social and moral issues of such a project, as well as worst case scenarios of a covert military project gone awry.
Warfare has entered a new era. The cold war is long over. Battleships, bombers, and tanks, the big iron of twentieth century military might, have taken a back seat to unmanned drones, IEDs, and suicide bombers. Fueled by cutting edge biotechnology, in a world where Dr. Strangelove politics and Jurassic Park science collide, the military embarks on a desperate project to seek out and destroy enemy combatants on their home turf.
Disturbingly close to the truth, Relic describes a world in which human soldiers are replaced with something much deadlier, and much more uncontrollable, with consequences that could spell the end of humanity as we know it.
“An Incredible Premise”
“It is an incredible premise: cloning Neanderthals for battle. As one character puts it, it’s like Planet of the Apes. It is also the centrally engaging part of this book. We live in a time, after all, when the military looms, in the worst kind of Big Brother way. Just think of the NSA’s domestic spying program, exposed by Edward Snowden. … The dialogue in Relic has snap. It is fast and precise. … Meanwhile, the thoughts of the main characters, set apart concisely in italics, give the story emotional heft. … The plan is clear, creepy but clear. … [and] the epilogue after the final chapter demonstrates, eerily, otherwise. … [that the] promise of apocalypse-still-to-come is definitely the stuff that sci-fi stories are made of.” — Thomas Gagnon’s book reviews.
“Who says that entertainment and education are mutually exclusive? Jonathan Brookes’ latest novella, ‘Relic’, is science fiction in the truest sense. It takes us through an intriguing storyline, while also sharing some fascinating anthropological and biological insights. Along the way, the story contemplates moral questions raised by genetic engineering, particularly the effort to revive species that natural selection has deemed unfit for continuation. Historically, the convergence of science and the military has produced some wild and often questionable technological experimentation. ‘Relic’ explores that fact, and entertains in the process.” — Jeff Suwak, author, “Beyond the Tempest Gate”
Aptly titled, this novella was thoroughly entertaining. I was drawn in immediately when I read the front matter. The author wrote this story from the point of view of having heard it from a recluse whom he met while hiking in the woods. The plot centers around a top secret military project for cloning the ultimate soldier using Neanderthal DNA – a relic from thousands of years ago.
Brookes did a great job developing a colorful cast of characters who not only kept the plot moving, but harkened back to the cold war days of “Dr. Strangelove.” The story opens with a crusty General in charge of his own empire supported by an emotionally distraught Colonel who’s only job was to make sure the genetic scientist he held captive in their secret lab continued his work on the project. These officers didn’t yet know a security leak would rupture the brave new world they were trying to create. Throw in the playboy grandson of the project’s key industry partner who has questions of his own to answer and see what happens.
I love it when good fiction collides with fact and conspiracy. I also enjoyed the clever means by which Summerston, the captive scientist, managed to leak information about the project to the rest of the world by using Morse Code, considered by many to be a relic in today’s high tech environment.
Now that I’ve gotten a taste of Jonathan Brookes in the form of a short novella, I’m eager to read a sequel as “Relic” ends with the possibility that there might be more to come. — Gregory S. Lamb; author of “A Dangerous Element”
“Fun, Engaging Read”
Enjoyable debut novella that sets the stage for what promises to be an action packed sequel! The idea is fresh and intriguing. It has all the best ingredients – plausible science, military experiments, and devious scheming. This reader hopes to see “Relic” become part of a full length novel packed with Neanderthal exploits, a science fact/adventure fiction reminiscent of early James Rollins, Matthew Reilly, Jeremy Robinson, and my favorite, Michael Crichton. — Shannon Hollinger; Writer and Adventurer
“Fun, Quick Read”
This was a fun, quick read. The characters were balanced and it was easy to understand their points of view and motivations, even if they were on the wrong side of the plot/humanity. — E.D. Martin, author of “The Lone Wolf”
“A Fun and Clever Read”
Took me two days to speed read through this novella. An insightful and often comical look inside secret military operations. Fun, fast, and easy to follow.
The story follows several characters: Farnsworth, a rich playboy who tries to make himself useful in his grandfather’s company. Birchwood, a colonel who lost his younger brother in a senseless war and now feels the need to make the world right by him. Stark, a pathologist who discovers one of the bodies accidentally brought to him happened to have Neanderthal DNA. And Summerston, a scientist who in the past managed to clone the very first human. There is other characters too but these are the main bunch.
When Farnsworth loses Carmichael in a chase and the man then ends up dead, he has to find the pathologist, Stark, who examined the body. Together they discover F&G, Farnsworth’s grandfather’s company, and the military are working together trying to clone Neanderthals as replacement for human soldiers. Meanwhile Birchwood is trying to keep a tight leash on Summerston, who because he can’t leave a military facility in the middle of the desert tries morse code to inform the world of what’s really going on and what their tax payer money is funding. — R.M. James; author of “Hear Me Scream”
The cover art for both the paperback and the Kindle version of Relic is original artwork by Henry “Hank” Palumbo. It is done in the style of Ollie Moss