The Seven Einsteins is a classic page-turner, offering an action-packed, contemporary tale of conspiracy theories, the misuse of power and science gone mad.
In 1967 the President of the United States gives geneticists the green light to begin a new, top secret project: The Einstein Experiment. Four decades later, with the experiment reaching its end, all bar one of the original scientists involved have been mysteriously killed.
On his deathbed, the team's sole survivor, Professor Timothy Laenker, reveals the shocking truth about the project to his estranged daughter, Cynthia: the DNA of Albert Einstein, the world's most famous scientist, was used to create seven clones. The babies were scattered across the planet, given to foster parents in London, Manhattan, Nebraska, Rome, Beverly Hills, Brooklyn and Berlin, and raised unaware of their unique background and ultimate purpose.
Cynthia, like her father a brilliant geneticist, sets out to make contact with the clones and warn them that their lives may be in mortal danger, but finds herself being pursued by shady Government operatives who will stop at nothing to prevent her interference. "Kill her first. Apologize later" is the order.
As the now-mature clones are summoned to Washington for a planned reveal by the US Government, anxious to reinforce its leadership in genetic reproduction, the killing spree ramps up in intensity. Will Cynthia and her young daughter survive the carnage, and what will become of the young Einstein she has tragically fallen in love with? Will he become merely a pawn in a bigger political game, or will the politicians themselves find the greatest intellect of all time too powerful to control?
A modern take on the age-old argument of nature versus nurture, The Seven Einsteins uses an inspired hook to explore the ancient conflict between genetic inheritance and social inheritance. Motivated by the latest advancements in genetics, Rakoff asks do people become who they are because of what they inherit or because of what happens to them in life, and examines the ethics of science as the prospect of human cloning edges ever nearer to reality.
Now aged 87, Rakoff has enjoyed a celebrated career spanning more than 60 years, directing more than 100 television plays, as well as a dozen feature films and numerous stage productions.
A twice winner of the International Emmy Award, he gave Sean Connery and Alan Rickman their big breaks, and has worked with acting legends including Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence, Peter Sellers, Kenneth More and Alan Bates.
The Seven Einsteins is Rakoff's third novel. Still heavily involved in the film industry, the author is currently in talks to bring the book to the big screen.
Speaking about the novel's premise, Rakoff said: “After talking with my daughter, a doctor of physiology, we agreed that science, especially genetics, is too often mystified in the public’s mind. From that conversation came the idea for The Seven Einsteins. It plays on our fears over advancements in cloning and our right to know where science is leading us, and throws in conspiracy theories, secret Government agencies and a rising body count for good measure.”