The concept for the book came from my work as a surgeon. I wondered what would happen if it were possible to transplant one face to another. Initially most people would think we’d end up with a million ‘Taylor Swifts’ or other such celebrities. Then I realized the potential to use such technology for spying and infiltration. By being able to take the face from one person to put it on another without any detection you could impersonate anyone. The possibilities are endless. So the initial concept quickly turned into a suspense thriller, since the physician at the center of this story Matthew MacAulay is forced to deal with the effects of face transplants.
The initial concept begins with creating face transplants. This is reminiscent of “The Boys from Brazil”. This is a 1976 thriller novel by Ira Levin. This novel has a series of ‘clone assassins’ that is another way to end up with a group of identical people who could be used for military purposes. In The Face Transplant the government uses the technology to create doppelgangers (identical lookalikes) by taking one face and putting it on another. In “The Boys from Brazil”. Instead of face transplants, which is the dominant cutting edge technology of our time, that book, revolves around cloning, the cutting edge technology of that era.
Quickly the idea around face transplants means that the White House and the military would closely control the technology. These are natural extensions of the original idea of how face transplants would evolve. Although perfect transplants would have a great deal of humanitarian medical uses in restoring faces of trauma or burn victims, would the government in possession of this technology allow it to be used for this? Or would they guard the technology and use it for military purposes or to get an advantage on other countries.
The last concept around which this novel is constructed is robotic technology. Alice is a supercomputer who is really lifelike with the ability to reason and help Matthew in his quest to stop the destruction of the USA and find the killer of his mentor. The book juxtaposes the state’s use of technology “Face Transplants” vs. the private sector creation of a supercomputer robot. A Silicon Valley wunderkind created Alice. No different than the men and women who have found success in Silicon Valley today. The book shows how Alice the supercomputer is used for good and helps to save the USA. The book sets up the contrast between the state, which controls face transplants, and the individual who created Alice the supercomputer.
Lastly the book comments on technology and machines versus human beings. Despite all the technology and machines it is the relationship between Matthew and his friend Sarah Larsson that allows the intriguing puzzle to be solved. In the end human beings triumph over machines. Love triumphs all. The love story between the two characters thrown together in an impossible dilemma adds counter point and perspective to the narrative.
About the novel:
An epic journey of suspense, murder, and sacrifice....
Dr. Matthew MacAulay is a facial transplant surgeon at a prestigious New York hospital. When his friend and mentor, Tom Grabowski, dies under mysterious circumstances, Matthew uncovers his friend’s secret: a new technique that allows perfect facial transplants. No incisions, no scars. Tom was able to accomplish this monumental feat with the help of Alice, a supercomputer robot with almost human abilities. While trying to find the people responsible for murdering Tom, Matthew realizes he is the prime suspect. He must flee for his life with the help of Dr. Sarah Larsson, a colleague and reluctant helper, who has a secret of her own, and Alice, who helps them make sense of a baffling series of seemingly unrelated events. The clues carry Matthew and Sarah around the world. They stumble onto a sinister plot of monumental proportions that leads Matthew all the way to the White House.
The Face Transplant is a powerful medical suspense thriller of the first order. The novel was written by a surgeon who weaves politics, medicine, and espionage into a tightly paced, intelligent thriller.
Matthew, “Sarah, I know. The tremors, the leg weakness. I put it all together. ALS.”
“My Sherlock Holmes at work again.” Sarah laughs.
“I know and I don’t care.”
Sarah smiles at Matthew. “Do you know what you’re saying?” “ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A progressive neuro-muscular disorder with no cure. You will stop walking one day, and finally, you will lose control of all your muscles.”
“Not bad, Holmes.”
“We surgeons aren’t as thick as you think.”
“Then you know I don’t have long.” Sarah punches in the code to lock the anesthetic machine.
“I don’t care. I need you,” says Matthew.
“You know what my life will be very soon, how it is going to end.”
“I don’t care. I have to take a chance—I have to live. Give me that chance.”
“In the end I would regret doing that to you. I refuse to have you
look after me in the prime of your life. I’m going to be on a ventilator, not able to move any muscle in my body. I’m going to end up being only able to use my eyes. Totally locked in a useless body.”
R. Arundel is a practising surgeon. This experience brings realism to the story. The novel asks what would happen if a surgeon were to develop the perfect face transplant. This would allow people to have a new face, in essence create a new identity. You can create the perfect double, the perfect Doppelganger. For more information, R. Arundel has a page on Amazon.