Bernard Beckett, Lullaby, Text Publishing, 27 May 2015, 208pp., $19.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781922182753
Lullaby is very eerie science fiction which, in the telling of the story, discusses the dilemmas that medicine could find itself in when the desire to break new frontiers clashes with ethical principles.
So while, things that sound just great, like people being able to regrow limbs, (something that happens in the book), doctors have to deal with consequences such as people refusing to recognise their new limbs or preferring someone else’s. And this is not unlikely; the brain can get very confused. Neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks in his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat wrote about a man falling out of his hospital bed because he did not recognise his own leg and thought he was throwing out a severed one that somebody had put in his bed, as a morbid type of joke.
Rene, the hero of Lullaby must decide if he will agree to a dangerous and ethically dubious medical procedure. Rene’s identical twin brother Theo is in a coma after an accident which has left him with irreparable brain damage. There is one way to ‘treat’ this; by scanning Rene’s brain and implanting his memories in Theo’s brain, which leads to the question – is Theo then saved or is he now Rene version II? The young men may be identical twins but their personalities, talents and morals were very different.
Lullaby is confronting, terrifying and challenging – definitely for the ‘older reader’.
reviewed by Katy Gerner