I am happy to announce that as of this post’s publication, Project Gene Assist: The Complete Series is available for purchase in both ebook and paperback editions. In it, you can find all three books in the trilogy: The Fair & Foul, The Watch & Wand, and Lies & Legacy in one convenient volume. But what is Project Gene Assist about exactly?
Well, like all stories, it’s a journey, and one that started out a long, long time ago—junior high, to be exact.
A friend handed me a novel in between classes about a group of three boys who all happened to be born around the same time as a Chosen One was prophesied to appear. This Chosen One was destined to fight against the Dark One in the Last Battle, but could also go mad and burn the rest of the world down in the process. Color me intrigued.
It also helped that the person leading the three boys on their epic journey was a female Gandalf-like character. It also contained other strong supporting female characters with their own destinies, along with monsters, betrayal, and political machinations. The novel my friend gave me was the first half of the first book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.
If it sounds familiar, it is because it has been picked up by Amazon Studios in the hopes that it will become the next Game of Thrones.
At the time of this writing, I have no idea how the story will play out on the small screen. Previous attempts have been laughable at best due to the epic and continent-spanning nature of the story itself, and the trailer alone makes it clear that they are taking a few creative liberties. I’ll still give it a chance though. Considering how much of my life has been spent reading and re-reading these books. It would be a crime not to.
As much as I enjoyed the series and its three-dimensional main characters, I have to admit that what really hooked me in that initial book was how the author portrayed one of its villains. As to not spoil the series, I won’t go into the details, but she wasn’t what you would traditionally describe as a bad guy. She just happened make one really big mistake which led to more really bad things. Okay, so “really bad” might be a bit of an understatement here, but even so, I found her to be strangely sympathetic.
I found myself wondering what could have driven a person like her to that point. She wasn’t a sadist or sociopath like so many other cookie-cutter villains. If anything, the root of her sin was love, though I suppose some might also call it an obsession. Still, I had to think there had to be more to her origin. There had to be a catalyst no one talked about. Throughout the series, Robert Jordan had given some hints, but much of the character’s backstory is told from other characters’ points of view.
My brain attempted to fill in the gaps, but my brain didn’t stop there. The Wheel of Time also makes several references to a time of technological wonder that was lost long before the series’ main events unfold. I found myself wondering what it must have been like to live during the transition from age of wonder to pre-industrial. It must have felt apocalyptic. My brain filled in more gaps. The result was an early draft of Juliane’s story in The Fair and Foul.
The story changed during the revision process to become more and more my own. This also allowed Juliane to also grow into her own unique character—a heroine in her own right rather than a future villain. Although she did have a bad habit of stealing scenes intended for other characters.
So what is Project Gene Assist about? In short, it’s about good intentions gone astray, trust, found family, and the invention of magic set in the not too distant future. It is not, however, anything like the Wheel of Time. For one, there are only three books (one if you prefer the omnibus edition), not fourteen plus a prequel. It also only has two points of view. In fact, it is much more in line with the writing style of Anne McCaffrey, whose books about genetically engineered dragons also feature heavily on my shelves.
That said, I hope those who enjoy science fiction dystopian / post-apocalyptic tales, or worry about what might happen when technology becomes even more integrated into our daily lives than it is now, will check Project Gene Assist out. Who knows, maybe it will inspire another story or two one day.
What about you? What books have left you thinking about its characters long after the story is complete?