Frozen for more than a century in an Arctic iceberg, Jeremiah Rice met his death when washed overboard during a scientific exploration in 1906. Fast forward a hundred years when a research vessel searching for frozen life forms to reanimate discovers his body in a giant berg of “hard ice.” With this scenario, Stephen P. Kiernan reinvents a Frankenstein for the 21st century in The Curiosity.
The chatscript from the #litchat session with Stephen P. Kiernan, author of THE CURIOSITY, may be read here.
The Curiosity unfolds through the eyes of four people critical to the story. Leading the story is the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Kate Philo, leader of the Arctic research team. Skeptical journalist Daniel Dixon hopes to expose the scientific breakthrough as a fraud. Dr. Erastus Carthage, egotistical director of the privately funded research institute, runs his lab like a maniacal puppeteer. Jeremiah Rice, the reanimated man dubbed “Subject One” tells his story with grace and erudition.
After Rice is recovered from the iceberg and brought to the Carthage Institute in Cambridge, Mass., Dr. Carthage and his team apply the reanimation techniques they have used effectively on miniscule creatures such as krill and shrimp. The successful reanimation of a human being makes headlines across the globe, which brings out every manner of kook and religious fanatic. Jeremiah Rice, the reanimated man dubbed “Subject One,” surprises all when it’s discovered he’s a Harvard grad and a judge in Boston before his untimely death.
Dr. Philo, whom Carthage places in charge of Rice’s social reintegration, appears to be the only person who recognizes the human dignity of the reanimated man. As Rice recovers his own memory, he grieves over the wife and child left mourning his death a century ago. While he acclimates to the 21st century, he marvels at ordinary things such as the variety of foods available in a supermarket, yet observes the lack of flavor in the perfect fruits and vegetables. The heightened sexuality and vulgarity of contemporary American culture concern him, as does the violence in everyday life. He questions much about our world, even demands to be more involved in his reintegration to society, saying he wants to be more than just salvage goods and a “curiosity.” Yet he never uses his knowledge of law to confront Dr. Carthage about his captivity in the lab and his lack of human rights. Against her personal and professional judgment Dr. Philo falls in love with Rice, who naturally struggles with return of that love.
When Dr. Philo learns of Carthage’s plans to further exploit Rice, she springs him free of Carthage’s grasp. Together they attempt to outrun media hounds as well as the ticking bomb that threatens to explode within the reanimated man.
The best fiction makes readers think, while gripping the imagination with urgency and emotion. While The Curiosity is light on science, it suggests questions of a keen sociological nature. Can a person brought back from death become property? How adaptable are humans to radical changes in culture, economy, diet and lifestyle? Where does cryogenic fit in the natural circle of life?
Join us in #LitChat on Friday, July 26 at 4 p.m. E.T. to discuss these questions with Stephen P. Kiernan.
The following is Stephen P. Kiernan’s official bio:
Stephen Kiernan is the author of the 2013 novel The Curiosity. His nonfiction books are Last Rights and Authentic Patriotism.
He was born in Newtonville, N.Y. the sixth of seven children. A graduate of Middlebury College, he received a Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Over two-plus decades as a journalist he has won 40 awards, including the Brechner Institute’s Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism (two time commentary finalist) and the George Polk Award.
He has taught at Middlebury College and the New England Young Writers Conference, and has worked on the staff of the Breadloaf School of English and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. He chairs the board of the Young Writers Project, served on the Vermont Legislative Committee on Pain and Palliative Care, and joined the advisory board of the New Hampshire Palliative Care Initiative.
Stephen travels the country speaking to a wide variety of audiences about improving life’s last chapters, restoring America through volunteerism and philanthropy, and using the power of creativity to transform lives.
A performer on the guitar since he was ten years old, Stephen has recorded 3 CDs of solo instrumentals, and composed music for dance, the stage, documentaries and TV specials.
He lives in Vermont with his two amazing sons.
Follow Stephen P. Kiernan on Twitter: @StephenPKiernan.