By Robert J. Sawyer
Finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year
New York : Tor Books, 1997
Hardcover: June 1997, ISBN 0-312-86325-X; US$23.95 / CDN$32.95
Paperback: November 1998, ISBN 0-812-57108-8; US$6.99 / CDN$8.99

Reviewed by Renette Davis

This book is a science fiction story, in which one of the main characters has Huntington's Disease. Pierre Tardivel learns, when he is 18 years old, that his biological father has HD. Realizing what that might mean for his future, he decides to make the most of whatever time he has left, so he goes to college and graduate school, specializing in genetics.

He falls in love with Molly Bond, an assistant professor in psychology, who happens to be able to read minds. She is generally turned off by the thoughts of men that she dates, but Pierre is from Canada and thinks in French, so she doesn't understand his thoughts. Pierre tests himself and learns that he does have the HD gene, but Molly wants to marry him anyway.

Not long after the wedding, Pierre and Molly are attacked as they leave campus. Because of Molly's mind-reading ability, she realizes that it is not a random attack, but someone is specifically trying to kill Pierre. However, the attacker falls on his own knife and is himself killed.

The rest of the book is really a mystery story, as Pierre and others try to find out what is behind the attack. There are several interesting threads that contribute to the mystery. One is the search for a Nazi war criminal and another is an insurance company which seems to have more profits than would be expected. The third is Pierre's boss, who volunteers to provide sperm for Pierre and Molly to have a child using IVF, and then takes an unnatural interest in the child.

I really enjoyed this book. I wasn't sure how much of the scientific information was science fiction and how much was fact, but I do know that the information on Huntington's Disease was correct. There was a very good explanation of the mutant form of the IT15 gene, which causes Huntington's Disease. I highly recommend Frameshift for anyone who enjoys a good science fiction or mystery book.

Copies are available from all online bookstores, and can be ordered by any regular bookstore that does not have the book in stock. Autographed copies can also be purchased directly from the author through his web site at; you'll also find sample chapters and a reader's group discussion guide for the novel there.

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Created: Mar. 11, 2000
Last updated: Dec. 1, 2010