Off Target Review: Secrets and genetics - SciFiNow

Off Target Review: Secrets and genetics

When a one-night stand leads to a long-desired pregnancy, Susan will do anything to ensure her husband won’t find out in Eve Smith’s Off Target. Here is the SciFiNow review…

Despite wild advances in IVF and gene therapy capable of curing life-limiting diseases in-utero and helping women to conceive, Susan is still suffering from unexplained infertility in Eve Smith’s sci-fi novel Off Target. Desperate for a child and breaking from the marital pressure to conceive naturally, an impulsive one-night-stand unexpectedly makes Susan’s dream come true. Fearful of losing both her husband and her unborn child, Susan finds herself turning to an international eugenics lab in a desperate attempt to disguise her secret.

Years later, with the world in the midst of a genetic arms race, leaked documents from religious zealots start to make links between the high rate of suicides among children and the medical records of so-called fertility tourists. Soon society starts to question not only the ethics around the genetic manipulations of these children but also the unintended consequences they may have invoked.

Exploring the incalculable risks that would-be-parents are willing to take to have a child, Off Target provides an empathetic perspective on the tightrope between miracle babies and designer babies. Eve Smith has constructed an eerily prophetic near-future viewed through a compassionately anchoring lens. The struggles of infertility and temptations of technology are distressingly seductive and while tackling a subject matter this emotionally wrought may be triggering for some, it is handled sensitively, with enough of a balanced perspective to allow readers to draw their own conclusions.

Telling such a contained story from the isolated perspective of its main character’s bubble gifts the reader with an empathic attachment. However, by providing glimpses at the bigger world just beyond the fringes, it teases at the potential for a more dynamic and layered story. Despite some frustrating third-act pacing, there are just enough explored ideas to counterbalance the unexplored ones. Filled with promises and surprising results, Off Target is as tempting and tantalising a read as the vision of the future it presents.

Off Target is out now from Orenda Books.