In her interview on science fiction author Joshua Palmatier's blog, Benoit noted that part of her original inspiration was one of those credulous articles about human genetics that newspapers love to publish (my characterization, not hers) .
Next, I read an article about Israel doing intense research to find the Arab gene so they could fabricate gene-specific weapons. Although it now appears not to be a viable theory, it started the "what if" question all writers start with.Benoit told SciFiChick that she taught herself about DNA and genetics, and followed the recent news on genetic engineering online:
Benoit: I was already following developments in genetic engineering: the mapping of the human genome, the cloning of Dolly the sheep, the controversy over genetically modified organisms, so I knew enough to know I knew very little. I began with basic books on DNA, then roamed the internet for more in-depth and up-to-date information on human genetic engineering. The field evolves so quickly it’s almost impossible to follow everything that’s happening, but several government sites have done a great job in bringing the knowledge to an understandable level.According to Benoit, she tried to stick with real genetics in her plot, as long as it didn't affect her storytelling:
I didn't want it to be a class in genetics, but it was essential that there would be enough of it to make sense of the story. It wasn’t as much trying to vulgarize the science as much as make it flow within the story.Synergy is the first of three novels by Benoit based on genetic engineering. Catalyst, due to be released in 2008, is about human cloning farms. She is currently working on the third book, Entropy, that "deals with genetically engineering food crops and the real dangers of monoculture."
I haven't actually read Synergy, so I can't comment directly on the science, but it sounds like it could be an interesting read.
Tags:science fiction, genetics, cloning, M.D. Benoit, Synergy