The Island of Dr. Moreau was H.G. Wells’ third novel and was first published in 1896. It recounts the experiences of a shipwreck victim who finds himself on an island populated by animals that have been modified by the titular Dr. Moreau, using scientific means, to become human/animal hybrids who resemble humans with residual animal traits and nearly have human intelligence and sentience. The novel was quite a sensation at the time of its publication, and controversial in its exploration of the themes of the theory of evolution, the use of animals in scientific experimentation, and the concept of personhood and how, or what, can actually be considered a person. With his new novella, author Daryl Gregory stirs the pot of many of those same issues, but includes a wicked sense of humor, relentless puns and, of all things, boy bands in The Album of Dr. Moreau.
The year is 2001 and the location is Las Vegas. The WyldBoyZ have just played the final show of their latest tour. The WyldBoyZ are not only the world’s hottest boy-band, they are also the only genetically modified boy band. There is Bobby the ocelot (“the cute one”), Matt the bat (“the funny one”), Tim the pangolin (“the shy one”), Devin the bonobo (“the romantic one”), and Tusk the elephant (“the smart one”). During the inevitable party at the end of the tour, Maurice Bendix, their producer/manager who is known as Dr. M, is killed, and it is up to Detective Luce Delgado to discover “whodunnit” and why.
In his latest novella, author Daryl Gregory explores the world of boy bands, crazed fans, locked-room mysteries, police procedurals, and personhood. The beginning of the novella lists T.S. Elliot’s “Five Rules of Detective Fiction” and then follows as Gregory gleefully breaks every single one while still providing a fascinating and enjoyable mystery. The text is littered with sharp observations, witty allusions, and puns--lots and lots of groan worthy puns. But Gregory also raises some of the original questions that Wells explored in 1896. If it turns out that one of the WyldBoyZ is the murderer, under whose jurisdiction is the crime? While the Las Vegas police department begins the investigation, it isn’t the FBI that is called, but the FWS (Fish & Wildlife Service) because the “boys” are not officially people.
The Album of Dr. Moreau is an intriguing story and a fun read that touches on serious questions. It is speculative science fiction/mystery at its absolute best!
Read the interview with Daryl Gregory here.