Children of Alpheios by Diana Fedorak book review
book review

Book Review: Children of Alpheios

CHILDREN OF ALPHEIOS by Diana Fedorak is a sci-fi biotech fable about a brave mother seeking to heal and protect her child. Check out what Tucker Lieberman has to say in his book review of this Wild Rose Press novel.

Children of Alpheios

by Diana Fedorak

Genre: Science Fiction

ISBN: 978-1509247769

Print Length: 498 pages

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Reviewed by Tucker Lieberman

A brave mother seeks to heal and protect her child in this sci-fi biotech fable.

In the city of Alpheios, on the rocky planet Eamine, where bioluminescent dragons dwell among the giltspar and hover-jets careen overhead, Alina and Chance have a son. 

He’s born in a laboratory in an underground vault where the biotech company Genodyne has successfully gestated him inside a genetically modified pig uterus. None of Genodyne’s babies have ever had any genetic disease—so the company says. Yet something about this child’s genome is different.

Diana Fedorak delivers a rich science-fictional world in this novel about parenthood, family, health, corporate evil, and what really makes us human. The story is told from the point of view of Alina, a gentle, perceptive soul who connects with wise mentors and confronts her crafty adversaries.

The baby boy has seizures. Alina hopes, as any mother would, to find a cure. The added complication is that her son, Mandin, has “talents”—that is, special mental abilities, suggested in part by a colorful aura that some adults can see. Alina wants to cure her son’s seizures but not interfere with his benign powers. She wants him to grow into the unique person he is. Genodyne is willing to help with his seizures, but in return, they want to patent his DNA.

Meanwhile, Alina has to find out why another woman threw herself off a roof after her son went into treatment at Genodyne and never returned.

Though the people in the city of Alpheios are generally born in labs, there are still naturally born people on this planet. They’re called Origins. To Alina, the custom represents “a throwback to unnecessary traditions, a turn away from societal advancement,” and she can’t quite “imagine how it would have felt to carry Mandin, like a comfy but heavy balloon.” She ends up assisting at a difficult birth for which she has no medical training, and in the process she learns about herbs like “knipier” with its “astringent, tree-like smell released from the twig.”

While Alina doesn’t give birth, she risks her own life in other ways to support those who do. In pursuit of dullis roots to treat a new mother’s infection, Alina is, at one moment, “sure her own ice axe would kill her, if not the fall itself.

Although the setting is on a fantastic, futuristic planet, the central moral dilemma isn’t so far off from today’s world. That dilemma is: To stop your child from suffering, would you give their DNA to a slimy corporation that might use the DNA for their own profit? What pressures might be at play? What if you didn’t have a real choice?

In more than one situation, Alina wrestles with the conundrum: What if my apparent choice of life accidentally results in someone’s death? Her inner conflict is multilayered and realistic. She’s a trustworthy hero for this compelling story, and she’s a woman we sympathize with and admire.

Children of Alpheios is an entertaining, thought-provoking novel for readers who appreciate immersing themselves in profound human choices in sci-fi settings. Fedorak gives us an intimate look into Alina and her world.

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