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?
Dr. Rose McBride spends her life in the pursuit of excellence. With degrees in both psychology and computer science from the top Ivy League schools, she rises through the ranks of the military with a singular determination. Her name is mentioned with respect and awe in the halls of the Pentagon. She’s the one that they call when they need a sharp analytical mind with a refined approach. And it’s the very reason that she’s assigned to a project known only as New Dawn.
She called it the Mother Code, a computer code meant to embody the very essence of motherhood. The challenge of the code had lifted her from her moorings, plunged her headlong into uncharted waters. She herself had never been a mother. She didn’t know the first thing about caring for a child, let alone a newborn. She was dogged by fear—fear that if it ever had to be used, her Mother Code would fail the ones who needed it, defenseless children in a new world. But she knew that she would never give up.
Years later, a young boy named Kai and his Mother, Rho-Z are searching the desert landscape for other children that might have survived The Epidemic. Hope is running out as fast as the water supply and food is becoming harder to find. But miraculously, they discover another kindred pair in Sela and Alpha-C.
Sela is very different than Kai. She’s reckless when he’s cautious and brave when he is careful. Together, they endure the frightening unknown to locate the others and ensure the survival of mankind.
But what will become of them when the very Mothers that have ensured their survival for so long now seem to stand in the way of it?
The gentle touch of his own mother’s hands—the certainty of that first, unconditional love… The wonder.
In The Mother Code, Carole Stivers gives us a chilling and yet inspiring glimpse into the possible future. A future where science can destroy and the love of a mother can resurrect. It’s a story about connection and sacrifice, bravery and overwhelming sorrow.
She shines the brightest of lights on what it means to be human in a world completely out of control. And proves that even surrounded by unimaginable loss, you can still find a bit of grace…