Theory of Bastards


By Audrey Schulman

cover image of Theory of Bastards

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The Philip K. Dick Award–winning sci-fi novel: “A riveting page-turner” about the behavior of primates—human and otherwise—“in a very near and dire future” (The Washington Post).
Winner of the 2019 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction
One of The Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of fiction in 2018
In a world where coastal cities flood, dust storms plague the Midwest, and implants connect humans directly to the Web, Dr. Francine Burk has broken new ground in the study of primate sexuality. While in recovery from a long-needed surgery—paid for with a portion of her McArthur “genius” award money—Frankie is offered placement at a prestigious research institute where she can verify her subversive scientific discovery: her Theory of Bastards.
Leaving Manhattan for a research campus outside Kansas City, Frankie finds that the bonobos she’s studying are complex, with distinct personalities. She comes to know them with the help of her research partner, a man with a complicated past and perhaps a place in her future. But when the entire campus is caught in a sudden emergency, the lines between subject and scientist—and between colleague and companion―begin to blur.
Audrey Schulman Award–winning novel explores the nuances of communication, the implications of unquestioned technological advancement, and the enduring power of love in a way that is essential and urgent in today’s world.
Theory of Bastards