The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers – review
Rogers raised eyebrows in the sci-fi community when she won this year's Arthur C Clarke Award with her first shot at speculative fiction. But it's based on a premise so terrifyingly plausible you're half-afraid the book might fall into the hands of some ruthless bio-terrorists with the keys to an IVF lab. Set in what feels uncomfortably like the day after tomorrow, the human race faces being wiped out within a generation by a deadly virus that kills women in pregnancy. Sixteen-year-old Jessie is determined to do something about it, volunteering for the sinister Sleeping Beauties programme in which women give birth in an artificially induced coma. Her father responds in the only way a desperate parent can – by chaining her to a radiator. The book lacks a convincing explanation as to why all this is happening: "Power? Religion? Your guess is as good as mine." But Rogers brilliantly characterises the self-centred logic of an obstreperous teenager: "There doesn't seem to be much point doing our homework does there, if we're about to be extinct'.
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