The Genesis of the Young Adult Science Fiction Novel “An Audience for Einstein”

An Audience for Einstein (2006 EPPIE Award Winner) - Mark Wakely

An Audience for Einstein was written out of concern about the astonishing medical breakthroughs being made that raise a whole host of difficult ethical issues.  Cloning, genetic engineering, stem cell research and other experiments are beginning to push the boundaries of what it means to be human, for better or for worse. While our ability to create "designer humans" is still in its infancy and not an immediate concern, future generations will have to struggle with whether or not to implement these medical techniques and to what degree.

 

The idea for the novel first occurred to me several years ago.  While there have been plenty of stories about memory transfer in science fiction almost from its inception, rather than focus exclusively on how such a transfer could be achieved I knew I wanted to focus instead on the human drama and ethical dilemmas of such an experiment, particularly one carried out in secret.  Besides, we still don't know how memory works exactly so any "explanation" remains well within the realm of science fiction.  That said, the novel had to at least present a working hypothesis of memory transfer- however speculative- to be credible.  I turned to the intriguing theory that memories are created as complex structures of cellular proteins called "Hebbosomes" after psychologist Donald Hebb, who first theorized that links between nerve cells in the brain (the synapses) are responsible for memories being "set."  This raises the enticing possibility that those proteins- if removed intact and still viable- could be transferred to a suitable recipient and continue to function.  Presumably, the recipient would have to be someone whose brain is still actively developing to readily allow all of the donor Hebbosomes to take up residence, so to speak.  In other words, someone young.  It was this idea of transferable memory proteins that made the novel possible.

 

An Audience for Einstein is among the top nine science fiction novels of all time for young adults according to The Huffington Post:

 

“Strange cutting-edge experiments involving the transferring of memories, as well as a touching story of human relationships, make An Audience For Einstein a lasting science fiction novel that explores the limits of humanity.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/26/mockingjay-science-fiction_n_694507.html#s131191&title=An_Audience_For

 

An Audience for Einstein Website: http://anaudienceforeinstein.weebly.com/

 

Author bio: Mark Wakely

 

Almost from birth, Mark has had a lifelong fascination with all things science.  Throughout grade school, it was the usual model rockets, telescopes and microscopes that occupied his spare time, along with avidly following the space program.  In high school, he started a science club that earned him the Baush and Lomb Science Award in his senior year, which he followed up by acing the science section of the ACT college entrance exam.  By the middle of his freshman year in college, however, he felt something in his life was lacking, that something being artistic expression. That ended his budding science career, but launched a new English major.

 

It was probably inevitable that Mark found himself drawn to writing science fiction, and after cutting his literary teeth by writing poetry (which he still writes) and several "so so" SF stories, Mark wrote two unpublished novels prior to An Audience for Einstein, which he considers far and away his best work ever.

 

Mark is currently a college administrator at prestigious Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, and resides in a town nearby with his wife and three children. He is already hard at work on his next novel.