Author: Jeremy R. Lent
Publisher: lilbros Libertad
On first glimpse, you might very well have considered Requiem of the Human Soul strictly a work of science fiction, however, Jeremy R. Lent has gone much further. He has constructed complex characters while probing the deepest reaches of their minds. To boot, Lent’s technical brilliance is awesome yet jarring as he permits each of his characters fashion a distinct radically different resolution while the reader is left to become the ultimate judge.
The setting is the late twenty-second century and Eusebio Franklin, a high school history teacher from the small community of Tuckers Corner is abducted by two d-humans, Harry Shields and Naomi Aramovich. Eusebio is a Primal or someone whose human DNA has not been tinkered or enhanced, unlike that of Shields and Aramovich’s DNA. The d-humans blame the Primals for genocides, devastation of indigenous cultures and the utter destruction of earth’s environment, as well as the mass extinction of many species of animals.
As a result, the United Nations has constituted a special hearing called The Proposed Extinction of the Primal Species (PEPS) that has been in existence for several years debating whether the Primals should be eliminated from the earth due to the past atrocious behavior of their ancestors.
At the time of the hearings there were seven billion d-humans in the world and three billion Primals. Aramovich and her fellow Primal Rights activists have chosen Eusebio to defend his race. Aramovich assumes the role of Eusebio’s defence attorney wile Shields is acting as the prosecuting attorney.
Shields divulges to Eusebio that the PEPS’s proposal is quite human, honest and legitimate. They are following due process and furthermore they are not acting like the Primals of the twenty-first century, saying one thing in the UN while permitting the exact opposite to happen in the real world. Basically, the plan involves changing the world by doing away with some of its innocent inhabitants. To accomplish this feat, a compound called Isotope 909 will be released and there will be a partial sterilization of the ovaries of all Primal women around the world. However, this will in no way affect d-human women. Furthermore, as it will only be partial sterilization, Primals, who have not had a child, will still be able to give birth once. The Primal species will eventually fade away, and this will be the final solution to the “Primal Question.” As soon as the Primal population reaches about twenty-five thousand, they will be safely placed in enclosed reservations. They won’t entirely disappear, as cloning techniques will be used to keep the Primal population stable.
While the hearing is unfolding, Eusebio receives a visit from the mysterious Yusef who calls himself a freedom fighter of the human race and who warns him that the hearing is a farce and he shouldn’t take part in it. He also reveals to Eusebio that he is a Rejectionist or d-humans who have refused to go along with the treaty known as the Global Aggression Limitation Treaty (GALT). This treaty, signed after the Great Global Wars, gave the UN global policing power with a full-time army. However, according to Yusef, GALT was in fact the struggle for the human race.
Eusebio wrestles with many challenging questions and soon realizes that there are no simplistic solutions. Is possible to defend the past actions of the Primals from a moral or ethical perspective? What does it mean to be human? Should humanity be given a second chance? Does anyone have the right to play God and alter DNA even if it means improving ourselves? What about our souls? If we do in fact believe in the human soul, would it survive if the DNA is modified? And above all, if Eusebio were asked to commit murder on a massive scale, would he agree to it if it meant saving the human race?
This is a cleverly crafted debut novel that achieves a near flawless rhythm as the narrative builds. There is a great deal of confusion and complexity here as Lent refrains from making his characters conduits for right and wrong. His prose mixed in with a healthy dose of science fiction is as gifted as it is fearless leaving readers in a state of exhaustion but surprisingly exhilarated to have the opportunity to partake in this most unusual hearing. Perhaps this was Lent's objective? If so, he has succeeded admirably.