Roger Scully, an American doctor, lies hopelessly crippled by an accident and surgery in Chengdu, China. Roger transfers to Harbin as a potential brain transplant candidate.
Surgeons place Roger’s brain into the skull of a condemned Uyghur, and Roger emerges as Wu Zicheng. Wu survives major complications before rehabilitation restores his surgical skills.
Bribery persuades senior Chinese officials to make Wu a Chinese citizen. The same authorities grant him a Chinese medical license.
Wu works as a surgeon at the Harbin hospital. He speaks and works in Mandarin but reads the Boston Globe and watches Bruins and Red Sox games. He achieves fame as the first surviving brain transplant.
Wu accepts an American speaking engagement, where he startles the audience by appearing as Roger Scully. He accepts an offer to become a professor and head of a new transplant institute in Denver.
The Denver career features student protests, a romantic affair, and the Covid-19 virus. The novel ends with a puzzle contest for the readers.
CAN YOU WRITE RODGER'S REGAIN OF IDENTITY FOR THE START OF A SEQUEL NOVEL?
IF YOU CAN, YOU COULD WIN
A fascinating blend of science and speculative fiction, Robert Wilson Morgan’s novel explores
the social, psychological, and ethical consequences of scientists being able to transplant a brain
into a fully functional donor body.
Set just before the COVID pandemic hit, the narrative revolves around Roger Scully, a Denver-
based doctor and recent widower who, while travelling in Tibet, was involved in a horrific car
accident that left his lower body a “pulpy mess.” Taken to the Chinese city of Chengdu for
emergency surgery, he finds himself without his pelvis, hips—and everything below.
Facing a radically diminished quality of life, Scully opts to become what is essentially a medical
guinea pig. The high-risk surgery would transplant Scully’s brain into the body of a donor: a
condemned prisoner who opted to donate his body to science for the opportunity to die under an
anesthetic instead of via a bullet to the brain. Once inside his new body—which is of Uyghur
descent—Scully begins a new life in China with a new name. But his ultimate goal is to make it
back to the States, regain his identity as Roger Scully, and restart his medical career.
Morgan raises numerous questions throughout, namely about the ethics surrounding organ
donations from condemned criminals and China’s highly experimental medical procedures
involving animals and humans. He also touches on the Uyghur’s plight in China, some
Americans’ distrust of Asiatic people, and the question of why America doesn’t have a
functioning national system of organ donation.
Highly intriguing and engaging… a persuasive tale of scientific intrigue.
Robert spins an exquisitely clever blend of speculative fiction and medical science, sparkling densely with elements of a fast-paced thriller. When a horrific car accident in Tibet leaves Roger Scully, a Denver-based doctor, wheelchair-bound, he decides to opt for a high-risk medical procedure in China. He gets his brain transplanted into a healthy donor body but has no idea what awaits him ahead. Robert combines an extraordinarily fascinating premise with clever details into a convincing medical reality. His plotting is tight, and he is up-to-date on sophisticated organ transplantation procedures as well as ethical issues surrounding medicine and the Uyghur’s plight in China. The pacing is somewhat uneven, especially toward the end, but the novel as a whole comes off as a deeply absorbing, intriguing medical thriller. Readers seeking an endlessly inventive and engrossing story are in for a thrill ride.
Fascinating and too accurate to be a novel, though it is.
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2022
I have had this experience having transferred my old hard drive to a new computer. The memory is the essence of the soul. My experience with stroke patients confirmed the challenges that Roger experienced in teaching his brain to work his muscles. I had never thought of the complications that follow transplants. This fine novel handles these issues well. One cannot fail to compare the Chinese local police treatment of Uyghers to our police treatment of our black people in light of current events. You experience this injustice first hand. As an organ donor, I can also identify with a prisoner’s wish to donate organs, if for no other reason than to make up for the lives that he damaged. I recommend this book.
Robert Wilson Morgan MD, SMHyg., FACE, FACPM
Dr. Morgan is a Harvard epidemiology graduate. He is the former Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Toronto. Research interests have included Inuit eye disease, cancer, and reproductive effects of chemicals. He has authored over 80 scientific papers and book chapters.
Chimera Conflict is his first venture into writing fiction. He was stimulated to write the novel by reading of scientific papers (especially Chinese) concerning what was reported as a successful head transplant. When the Chinese government recently published a price list for transplant organs, they confirmed much of what Morgan wrote about the Chinese transplant system.