“Faulty Genes” is a future fantasy novel about a world dominated by the anxieties of perfecting genetic engineering and the establishment of a fully functional utilitarian society. It is a satire where a terrible epidemic affecting the male testicles breaks out all over the world. As a result the male population is virtually wiped out; however, during the course of the epidemic in a knee jerk reaction the men behave abominably towards the women whom they try to pin the blame on for this catastrophic disease. When the women, finally taking over after the men have been dying out in droves and there’s no one left to man the labs and everything else, manage to develop a cure, they do not use it to save the men, but decide to create a new Women’s Polity instead, where only a small sample of men shall be preserved in a special compound for procreation purposes. All procreation, however, is carried out by artificial insemination and the new world order is established where, at first, most of the ills of the world that had been endemic have been eliminated. Pollution, overpopulation and aggression become things of the past. Wars cease, urban violence no longer appears and a more rational organisiation of production for needs rather than profit leads to a vast improvement in the problem of pollution. The Emergency Council that had been governing the world through this crisis declares the Women’s Polity in force and a bureaucratic system of governance by Committees and Councils of Elder Women is instituted.
Life becomes totally regimented and regulated for all women who have eventually become numbers and live by the strict rules of the Polity, and hardly as living and breathing human beings any more. A few generations down, men have become an unknown quantity, a bogey from the history books, the incarnation of all evil on the planet. The quest is now on to perfect a manner of reproduction that can do away with male spermatozoa altogether so that even the last vestiges of men on the planet may be eventually eliminated. So far cloning has proved inadequate, after all as the Director of the Andrological Compound says, “‘You can clone a body, a brain reasonably well, but how can you clone a mind?’” and the search is on.
However, it appears that genetic engineering has not been perfected and despite all efforts at achieving complete order and total conformity among women there are aberrations. One of these is Twenty Twenty a girl of sixteen whose exuberance and energy is such that she is considered a threat and an anomaly. Since, however, she has committed no crime (other than breaking windows by accident with a ball, and punching the head girl at school for mortally insulting her by saying that she was like a boy) they decide to banish her to the Andrological Compound, the farm where the males of the species are kept and reared. Like everybody else in the outside world, she has never even seen a man before and the prospect of having to live and work there terrifies her. “’Will I be thrown into a hole and forced to wash men?’” She wails in terror and in anguish, totally disconcerting the officer in charge of her case. And when she actually has her first encounter with a man the experience is traumatic.
“The large wooden door creaked on its hinges and something, holding a tray with two glasses, walked slowly and carefully in. Twenty Twenty caught her breath. It looked human by the way it walked and held itself, but it had hair growing thickly under its nose and over the lower part of its face and its shape was decidedly weird. A deformed old woman, physically impaired. She darted a terrified look at the Director who seemed entirely unperturbed and was in fact actually smiling kindly at the creature coming in. Twenty Twenty’s chest tightened in fear, her breath grew short and cold sweat broke out over her brow. In this age of perfect genetic engineering how could such monsters, such aberrations ever be born? Let alone be allowed to wonder around freely like this!
The thing kept coming closer. Twenty Twenty couldn’t help herself. For all the Director’s impassive calm, she found herself trying to shuffle her chair backwards and away from this hairy thing slowly coming up to her. But in the end she lost all control, screamed out loud, jumped up toppling her chair over and made a dash for the corner of the office farthest away from the advancing creature. The Director looked round at her in startled alarm.
‘Just what is the matter with you? Are you having a fit?’ She asked impatiently, wavering between anger and concern.
‘No... no, no!’ She stuttered. ‘But... But... That... That!’ She almost squealed, pointing at the misshapen woman with hair growing under her nose and all over her chin. The poor creature looked just as startled as the Director by the girl’s reaction and almost as frightened of her as the girl was herself over its appearance.”
And that’s not all she has to contend with in her new environment. The grounds are vast, the buildings labyrinthine and she so much younger and so lesser educated than all the other women working on the Compound who are all very sophisticated and highly qualified. Otherwise they would never have been assigned there in the first place. Twenty Twenty is again the odd woman out, the girl who gets into trouble and does everything wrong because her genes, everyone seems to be convinced, are faulty. In her loneliness she wanders around the Compound and finds her way to a distant secluded beach where nobody else seems to go and has her second close encounter with a man, but this time it’s different. He is a young man, only a little older than herself, and she has already got used to what they look like.
Furthermore, this time it is he who is terrified of her since he knows he shouldn’t be at that beach at all and fears she will report him and have him punished for his misdemeanour. This is quite a novel experience for her since she has always been on the receiving end of reprimands and punishments and never the other way around. Nevertheless she manages to convince him, with difficulty, that she’s not like that, she’s different, she’s not a sneak and they strike up a clandestine friendship, arranging to meet at the secluded beach in their recreation time. Since they are nothing but relics from a bad and distant past, men don’t have numbers but anachronistic names which sound quite extraordinary. This young man’s name is Albert which Twenty Twenty has difficulty getting used to.
Another thing the sophisticated, functional, totally regimented Women’s Polity has done away with is music which not only serves no purpose but can also be subversive and disruptive if and when misused. The innovative Director, however, does use it to help regulate the moods of the men, rather than sedating them all the time with chemicals, and Twenty Twenty hears this weird noise for the first time piped over the loudspeakers at the men’s workshops. But since it could be very subversive and was in fact used to incite men to war and all sorts of abominable reactions related to procreation in the days of old, before the “Transition” to the Women’s Polity, in this regimented world it has to be used with the greatest caution and above all men are not allowed to produce it themselves, only to listen to what is deemed good for them. Albert, however, Twenty Twenty’s new found friend has a reed pipe and makes his way down to the secluded beach in order to make his own music in secret. Music represents base primitive instincts and a stimulus to the senses. Men are sensual creatures that must be kept in check because they become violent. They are also more primitive than women, th
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