Book club discussion questions for Chimera Catalyst

Susan Kuchinskas

Chimera Catalyst

ASIN B074Q2H8JS | $12.99/$2.99 | Pandamoon |

READERS ADVISORY: For people who like science fiction grounded in science and technology by authors like Greg Bear and Charlie Huston; and for fans of classic detective fiction who like Raymond Chandler served with a twist.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Finder is a brilliant and misanthropic detective in near-future California. When Finder is hired to locate charismatic, green-haired Miraluna Rose, it seems like an easy job. Crack into corporate databases, brew up some biologics to enhance his thinking, and get the job done with the help of the Parrot, a bird/dog chimera with the finest traits of both species.

ReMe, a corporation providing medical cloning services, is illegally breeding human/animal chimeras, branded as ArcoTypes, and selling them as playthings to the wealthy and ruthless.

Miraluna Rose is its finest creation, but she has other ideas. She’s holed up at Refuge, a haven for ArcoTypes, where she’s planning a future of freedom for her sisters.

The search takes Finder and the Parrot to the sun-broiled streets of Laxangeles, the canals of Seattle and the weirdly mutated vegetation of The Area. It’s not a simple missing-person case after all. To help the ArcoTypes fight ReMe, Finder and the Parrot will need the aid of a couple of sympathetic AIs, the CEO of the world’s largest advertising company and a posse of highly modded social media stars.

Discussion Questions

  1. Scientists have already combined pig and human genes in an embryo. There are regulations for cloning but scientists and technology companies keep pushing the limits. How likely do you think it is that we’ll someday see human/animal chimeras? Would you like to see them exist?
  2. The ArcoTypes are described as beautiful and exotic. Would you like to meet one? Would you be friends with one? Marry one?
  3. If you could combine yourself with an animal, which one would you choose and why?
  4. How should we define “human?” Should even one animal gene disqualify someone? Is there a percentage of animal DNA that would disqualify someone from being human? Or is it a matter of the qualities of the being?
  5. There are two non-human species in the book: ArcoTypes and AIs. Should they have rights? The same rights as humans? Should they be separate but equal?
  6. Finder, the detective, doses himself with a cocktail of drugs and hormones. Does this help him or hinder his ability to do his job? Is he a reliable narrator?
  7. What is Finder’s relationship with the Parrot? How does it change over the course of the novel?
  8. Did you expect Finder and Miraluna Rose to fall in love? Would this have been a more satisfying ending?
  9. Chimera Catalyst has a somewhat unusual combination of qualities—it’s part science-fiction novel, part detective novel. Can you think of other books or movies that combine these genres in similar ways?
  10. In the world of the novel, many of today’s technologies have evolved. For example, Google’s autonomous cars have replaced taxis, and video chatting is commonplace. Are any of these technological innovations like to happen? Which ones and why?