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CCST9038 1st Summative Essay

Name: Hiu Lam Tse

UID: 2013559921

Book Title: Season of the Harvest

Author: Michael R. Hicks

Plot

The book begins with Sheldon, an FBI agents death in a laboratory


where he was brutally murdered. This sparks the attention of Jack, a
close friend of his, who investigates his murder. He is introduced to
Earth Defense Society through an encounter with three harvesters
and a few of EDS members. The aim of EDS is to prevent the
harvesters from spreading corn seeds injected with harvesters
genes that turn humans into harvesters upon consumption.

Issues

The aliens, also known as harvesters in the story have very distinct
properties that include having a black exoskeleton with malleable
tissues that can shape shift into anything, and a stinger which can
either be used as a lethal weapon or inject people with their DNA to
transform them into harvesters. When they first become harvesters,
they are in liquid form and absorb carbon as to grow their
exoskeletons. Their abilities also include curing diseases like cancer
and ALS. They were also able to reproduce by mating but
procreation was lost in evolution:

For that future lay in genetic transmutation of other species,


spreading the building blocks of his kind like a virus, using a virus.
This was the only form of reproduction that had been left to
them.(p.471, Hicks)

However, the reproductive trait cannot stop with one generation,


this is because of the idea of replicators as proposed by Richard
Dawkins. It is said that the reproduction trait would keep replicating
itself from generation to generation, which is why harvesters cannot
all of a sudden lose their ability to procreate(Dawkins).
It is stated that the harvesters came to Earth to transmute human
beings into harvesters and for its resources. The harvesters have
human collaborators whom the harvesters coerced to work for them.
For example, the harvesters cured Ridley of ALS and the Vice
Presidents daughter of cancer, and would revoke their doings if
these humans disobeyed them. One might say that these humans
became the harvesters slaves.

Given if the harvesters can indeed successfully eliminate the human


race, Earth would run out of its resources at a very high speed due
to their immense appetite for carbon. Earth would also overpopulate
because of harvesters ability to transmute animals as well as
humans. Hypothetically, if harvesters have indeed exhausted
Earths resources, it would require them to colonize other planets.
However, given the present technology, humans have yet to find
another planet with properties similar to Earths. Even if the
harvesters discovered a planet like such, it would require hundreds
of years to travel there. Given their rate of multiplication, by then
they would have run out of resources and subsequently become
extinct.

Although we might deem the harvesters actions atrocious, the


domination of others living space is no foreign concept to us. For
example, Christopher Columbus slaughtered and enslaved the
Tanos who were natives on the Island of Hispaniola before
Columbus arrived in 1492(Smithsonian). A more current analogy
would be human deforestation. Our need for land and timber leads
to the destruction of animals natural habitat as well as the
endangerment of several animal species. We are now able to draw a
parallel between the book and real life, since humans and
harvesters both displace other species for survival. This begs the
question whether we are truly different from harvesters.

The recurrent question that comes to mind is whether harvesters


and humans can coexist. Is it necessary to displace one species for
another? Relating to the modern world, can humans and the natural
world both sustain given that resources are scarce and population
growth is perpetual? Perhaps the author named the aliens
Harvesters for the reason that the name humanizes these creatures,
and that the name reminds us that we too are harvesters of Earths
resources, at the expense of animals habitat. Harvesters may
indeed be a reflection of human nature, and that we too can
somehow shape shift. By that I mean we can act compassionate
when presented with environmental issues but lead a lavish lifestyle
with abundant resources. In retrospect, perhaps harvesters
absorbing carbon for survival might be an analogy of humans
exploiting natural resources. In relation to the book, given if
harvesters were not emotionless creatures, it would be completely
plausible for them and humans to coexist since we do not consume
the same resources for survival. In fact, one of the possible solutions
for harvesters to survive is for them to transform a small proportion
of animals or even insects into harvesters and they would consume
human wastage such as plastic bags or waste paper for their carbon
content. As for humans and the natural world to coexist, it is
imperative that we are aware of this issue and opt for sustainability.

Another issue that was brought up by the book is genetically


modified foods. Upon reading the book, I personally do feel a
heightened sense of caution toward genetically modified foods,
especially in real life when companies are as negligent towards the
side effects of genetically modified foods as it is written in the book:

Thats whats happened. DNA is a very complex system in itself,


not to mention the biosphere that the plants are in, and the place
they occupy in the food chain with respect to livestock and
ourselves. It doesnt matter if you believe what people say about
the problems, ranging from food allergies to overt toxicity, she told
him. What matters is that the government relies on the companies
to provide proof that the crops are safe, without any independent
verification.(Hicks)

However, it is already inevitable to not eat genetically modified


foods since a lot of commodities such as rice, corn and soy are
genetically modified. There are also no documented adverse effects
caused by genetically modified foods for human (Huffington post),
hence side effects of GM foods may be undetected until later years.
This proves that more comprehensive long-term safety tests should
be employed. It is also possible for a whole strand of GMOs RNA to
survive the human digestive system. Although this might cause
allergic reactions or gastrointestinal issues, it would not turn
humans into aliens because RNA strands do not carry enough
coding information to transform humans into another life form. The
message that the author might have wanted to bring out is that
humans should demand more comprehensive research on GMOs
due to unknown health risks. An example would be genetically
engineered L-tryptophan produced by Showa Denka in 1989, which
is rumoured to have caused an outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia
syndrome, though a clear link have not been found provided that
evidence have been destroyed(NEMSN).

Reflection
All in all, I personally think this book is thought provoking on the
basis that it relates to current and future issues, such as the scarcity
of resources, genetically modified foods and coexistence of different
species. However, this book is slightly unreasonable, for reasons
such as the Vice Presidents order to bomb US soil that killed over a
thousand people in order to eliminate a small group of EDS
members, and the zero evidence that the pharmaceutical company
has provided to proof that the retrovirus can prevent influenza. It is
illegal to issue a medical claim without providing any evidence of
the products actual effects.

Word Count: 1200 words


Reference:

Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. Print.

Michael R. Hicks. Season Of The Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1).


iBooks.

Poole, Robert M. "What Became of the Tiano?" Smithsonian.


Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

Schwennesen, Paul. "Modified: GMO Labels That Actually Work." The


Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Oct.
2014.

"What Caused EMS? National Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome


Network." What Caused EMS? National Eosinophilia-Myalgia
Syndrome Network, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.