Binary

Binary by Stephanie Saulter, Revolution #2

When confiscated genestock is stolen out of secure government quarantine, DI Sharon Varsi finds herself on the biggest case of her career... chasing down a clever thief, a mysterious hacker, and the threat of new, black market gemtech.

Zavcka Klist, ruthless industrial enforcer, has reinvented herself. Now the head of Bel'Natur, she wants gem celebrity Aryel Morningstar's blessing for the company's revival of infotech – the science that spawned the Syndrome, nearly destroyed mankind, and led to the creation of the gems. With illness in her own family that only a gemtech can cure, Aryel's in no position to refuse.

As the infotech programme inches towards a breakthrough, Sharon’s investigations lead ever closer to the dark heart of Bel'Natur, the secrets of Aryel Morningstar's past... and what Zavcka Klist is really after.


Last year I read Stephanie Saulter's debut, Gemsigns and was taken from the first few pages. Genetic tinkering is for me one of the most alluring subjects that science fiction currently has to offer, also by my job I am still intrigued by all that authors come up with. In Gemsigns, Stephanie Saulter introduced the reader to post-syndrome world, Syndrome decimated the world and could only be saved by genetic engineering leading up to the gems. The gems were the workhorses of society ruled more or less by the norms. One scientist, Eli Walker, was tasked to asses the whole situation and decide whether the gems were truly human and if they should be given equal rights. I was taken by the powerful story that Stephanie Saulter wrote, both as an entertaining and action packed science fiction story but also delving deeper into the human aspects and what drives them to do certain actions. The book ended in a perfect way, with enough room to be picked up in the sequel Binary

Binary picks up several years after the events of Gemsigns and it seems that peace has been returned between the gems and the norms, the godgangs and gem hating has stopped. The gems have been given the same rights as the norms they are free to do what they want, even procreating, but this isn't all that easy for them. The gems also aren't the sole workhorses of society anymore, they aren't mere property but full class citizens.

But where does the story picks up in Binary? Well even though some years have passed it seems that the past events have left a definite mark upon society. Added to this is the fact that the gemtech co-operations, the companies that created the gems, are no longer allowed to create them all the genestocks have been frozen into one big database and everything is tightly monitored. However, even with this tight security a certain genestock goes missing and it is up to Sharon Varsi to find just where it went, but her lead proof to wind up nowhere as there is virtually no trace of where the genestock went to. 
I think it was a smart move to skip a few years into the future when picking the story of Binary, it plays out more as a action-reaction or some unavoidable consequences that now slowly come to surface, because the story of Sharon Varsi is just one of the three story threads, you also have Rhys who is suffering from an disease that would require help of a gemtech company and you have Zavcka Klist (do you still remember her from Gemsigns?  what a b....) who has managed to let her gemtech company, Bel'Natur, survive the cut. 

All of these different story started up individually but later on in Binary, Stephanie Saulter nicely weaves them into each other. The story of Zavcka was for me by far the best one. It is also, I think by this one that the other two stories get connected. In Gemsigns you had gotten to know Zavcka Klist as a ruthless women who only wants her own way. However now that the gems are free she had to reinvent her Bel'Natur, she wants to do this by launching infotech, a disc that would allow a person to record all their thoughts and transfer them... It is just this type of technology that caused the Syndrome in the first place. Zavcka Klist is again playing a dangerous and dirty game, is this really for the better of society or does she has plans for here own because with Zavcka you never, ever, know... 

A definite plus to the present story of Binary is the fact that Stephanie Saulter introduces interlude chapters that take place when Aryel was still a young girl. There was a big revealing in the end of Gemsign about what Aryel has hidden under the cloak, and from the start Aryel made up for an interesting protagonist, however she never said a word about her past... Well, you get the full lowdown of all the stuff that happened on Aryel when she was still in the hands of one of the gemtechs. Like I said I really liked this part and a lot of questions do become answered and scenes become that much clearer by this, a clever move. 

Most of the characters that you got the meet up with in Gemsigns make an appearance in Binary. First and foremost is Aryel Morningstar, the protagonist of the series so far. After the big reveal in Gemsigns, Aryel has gained a celebrity status and is held as one of the icons of being a gem. Aryel hadn't wanted this status in the first place but it does seem that she is coping with it pretty well, other people however want to use it to create some extra publicity. Aryel was the leader of the gems and she still is a resolute character, but now her past seems to catch up with herself. Her character gets another degree of complexity by the flashbacks to her past. Linking these events to her present story and the actions she takes, you can clearly see that it starts to weigh her down. Secondly, you have Zavcka. Now running a legitimate business with Bel'Natur. Zavcka desperately wants the help of Aryel, her iconic status can help her launch her new product but all that has transpired between Aryel and Zavcka make their relation strenuous. I am going to be honest when I say that I had thought Zavcka had turned out for the better... Well I was in for a surprise. The end. Wow. As a third you have Rhys, Rhys was made from a special genestock, that now seems to fail on him, he is having seizures that threathen his life and that of his friend Callan, Rhys is seeking a cure but for that you would need the specific genestock. But his cannot be found. Anywhere. I liked how Stephanie Saulter showed Rhys's character and that of Callan they have a complex relation, and it comes to show that love makes strong and their battles do pay off in the end. Last and definitely not least you have Eli Walker, the scientist tasked with deciding if the gems and the norms should be given equal rights from the first book and Met officer Sharon Varsi. Eli is just himself as from Gemsigns and still questioning and examining the gem-norm society. Sharon Varsi is tasked with finding the stolen genestock. Sharon's character gave a nice view on some more of the normalcy that is still present in society. All in all I was again very pleased with the level of depth that Stephanie Saulter gave to her characters. They all just want to get by at a daily level but things are just to complex. 

This is still science fiction. And what would that be with out some cool idea's? Stephanie Saulter really put a smile on my face when she started the parts on genome splicing, epigenetics and much much more. I don't know whether this will mean a lot to you if you haven't got any prior knowledge about these subjects. But luckily I do and Stephanie Saulter does as well. For me this came totally unexpected but it worked well when it was explained and Stephanie Saulter did an amazing job when integrating these parts in her story. Pretty darn awesome! 

The ending of the story of Binary, revolves around Zavcka. I had thought her to be changed. but I was wrong. When Stephanie Saulter drops the bomb on you the ulterior motive that Zavcka has I think you will be awed just as much as I was and thinking "did she really just do that"?? Stephanie Saulter executed the story of Binary perfectly building up a tension and producing several false leads until finally it dawns on you that some people just cannot be trusted... 

Just as with her debut, Gemsigns, Stephanie Saulter creates a powerful entry in the science-fiction genre with Binary. She never stopped suprising me with her twists and turns that were riddled all throughout the story. What Stephanie Saulter managed to do in Gemsigns, exploring both the science of science fiction and a heavy emotional side with the gem and norm society, she does so again in Binary and perhaps even better. Given the fact that Aryel character and the relation to Zacka is explored in much more depth. Great characters and a superb storyline that will make you stop and wonder. If you are looking for a unique concept in science-fiction, get the revolution series. You wont go wrong.

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