Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Carole Stivers Guest Post - The Mother Code

Photo Credit: Alan Stivers

Carole Stivers was born in East Cleveland, Ohio. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She went on to post-doctoral work at Stanford University before launching a career in medical diagnostics. She now lives in California, where she’s combined her love of writing and her fascination with the possibilities of science to create her first novel, The Mother Code.


I have so many “favorite books,” for this list I had to just close my eyes and see which floated to the top. I’ll probably think of another ten tomorrow. But here goes!
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This was one of the first books I ever loved. I identified with Scout; my older brother was Jem, and my soft-spoken father was Atticus. Our “Boo Radley” was an old lady down the street named Mrs. Moseley. This book taught my young mind so many things.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I love almost everything by Margaret Atwood. But I picked this one because I was enthralled by the “stream of consciousness” sense in which it was written. The reader doesn’t realize until the very end why the first-person author imparts the story in the way she does, and that revelation packs a punch.
  • Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende – Isabel Allende is another author whose every word I devour. So it’s difficult for me to pick my favorite among her many novels. I picked this one because I read it shortly before a trip to New Orleans. It changed my perception of that city in amazing and indelible ways.
  • The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham – I first found this book (in English) in the home of a friend in Mexico. I couldn’t put it down, mesmerized and amazed.
  • An American Childhood by Annie Dillard – Rarely do I find so much of myself in a book that I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m still me! I love Annie Dillard’s engaging style, and as I read, I often wondered if we had been twins, separated at birth.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Given my personal abhorrence for Ms. Rand’s views in general, I’m embarrassed at how much I loved this book. I read it at a time when I was having trouble as a “woman in the workplace.” Dagny Taggart was my savior.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Starup by John Carreyrou – As one who worked in the medical diagnostics field for many years and personally knew many of the actors in the Theranos saga, this is my favorite piece of journalistic nonfiction. Carreyrou gets the science right, and the story is riveting. A cautionary tale that needed telling.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – For me, this was a well-needed summary of all the factoids I had gathered over the years regarding human evolution and belief systems. Harari runs a bit off the rails when it comes to AI and genetic engineering (his Homo Deus is even worse in this regard). But when I was finished, I felt well-schooled.

The Short Stories of H.G. Wells – Published in 1927 and purchased in a used bookstore, this tattered volume has travelled everywhere with me. It starts off with “The Time Machine,” and contains classics like “The Beautiful Suit” and “The Country of the Blind.” These wonderful stories transport me to a time when any question could be asked.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi – I read this science fiction masterpiece as I was contemplating writing sci fi of my own. It showed me the way. I can only aspire to master the art like Bacigalupi did in this riveting debut novel, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2010.

What it means to be human-and a mother-is put to the test in Carole Stivers' debut novel set in a world that is more chilling and precarious than ever.

The year is 2049. When a deadly non-viral agent intended for biowarfare spreads out of control, scientists must scramble to ensure the survival of the human race. They turn to their last resort, a plan to place genetically engineered children inside the cocoons of large-scale robots--to be incubated, birthed, and raised by machines. But there is yet one hope of preserving the human order--an intelligence programmed into these machines that renders each unique in its own right--the Mother Code. 

Kai is born in America's desert southwest, his only companion his robot Mother, Rho-Z. Equipped with the knowledge and motivations of a human mother, Rho-Z raises Kai and teaches him how to survive. But as children like Kai come of age, their Mothers transform too--in ways that were never predicted. When government survivors decide that the Mothers must be destroyed, Kai must make a choice. Will he break the bond he shares with Rho-Z? Or will he fight to save the only parent he has ever known?

In a future that could be our own, The Mother Code explores what truly makes us human--and the tenuous nature of the boundaries between us and the machines we create.


"Carole Stivers is far from the first to wonder if motherhood can be scientifically replicated, but this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking addition to that meditation. An end-of-times tale that focuses less on what has been lost and more on what and who might be saved (and how). Stivers' wonderful story settles right on the line between human and machine, as blame and threat and rescue and love shift from character to character in surprising and powerful ways." —Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“Some stories are so unique, yet so universal, that it is wonder they aren’t a part of the human fable already. Carole Stivers’s The Mother Code, is such a novel. Simply written but powerful, chock full of ideas and extrapolations about what it means to be a mother and all that such a word implies. Both apocalyptic, yet hopeful, treat yourself to this story. You’ll be well rewarded.” —James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of Crucible

"I could not put down The Mother Code ! Part action adventure, part sci-fi, the novel is suspenseful and cinematic and such a pleasure to read. Carole Stivers is a masterful storyteller and she has combined science, technology and history to tell a beautiful story of humanity and love." —Devi S. Laskar, author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues

"Set against a post-pandemic apocalypse, biochemist Carole Stivers’s The Mother Code offers it all: intriguingly flawed characters; compelling action; and, that most elusive of things, a fresh plot—children raised from birth by mother bots. The Mother Code asks us to reimagine the limitations of artificial intelligence and the costs of species survival, and in doing so, offers a profound meditation on motherhood and what it means to be human. Stivers is a brilliant storyteller!" —Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade

"The Mother Code takes us to the intersection of artificial intelligence and biotechnology and shows us what could go wrong. Carole Stivers has written a chilling tale about the relationship between humans and machines in the not so distant future. It is a prescient story that offers both a good read and a thoughtful way of thinking about a human way to shape the technologies that are reshaping our world." —John Markoff, author of Machines of Loving

“The Mother Code by Carole Stivers is brilliant, innovative, and moving.” —Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

"Stivers’s sweeping, cinematic debut raises probing questions about the nature of family and human connection….painful, provocative, and ultimately infused with hope.” —Publishers Weekly

"Propulsive page turner." —Newsweek

"Debuting author Stivers, a biochemist, blends hard science, emotional relationships, and artificial intelligence to produce a chilling and realistic narrative." —Booklist

You can purchase The Mother Code at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CAROLE STIVERS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Mother Code by Carole Stivers.