The American State Department has requested that a panel of three men try to verify the accuracy of a diary written by Janet West, a primatologist, who died under mysterious circumstances at her isolated camp in Uganda in 1977. She had apparently been murdered and her body mutilated after death. Her diary ended a few days prior to her death and only became available to the State Department in 1994 � the time in which the novel is set. In her diary, Janet West had described her habituation of a gorilla family culminating in bridging the evolutionary gap between homosapiens and the gorilla, by allowing herself to be mated by a member of this lower primate group. To her surprise, she became pregnant and carries the infant to near term, at which time the diary ends.
The three panel members consist of Dr. Frank Clarke, a distinguished primatologist, James Boswell from the State Department and Colonel Ahmed of the Uganda Police, in whose jurisdiction Janet West died.
They listened to tapes of the evidence taken after her death, by the local magistrate, from the police and the pathologist who performed the postmortem on Janet West.
The men also familiarized themselves with the evidence taken at the time from her fianc�, who visited her the day before she died. The evidence of the pathologist, who did the postmortem on Janet West, suggested that the mutilation of her body was done after she had died. A statement from her university Ph.D. supervisor was also listened to. The panel then heard testimony from the Director of the American Army Medical Archives who produced documents captured from the Germans after the war, which showed that a Dr. Karl Cleinman, a Nazi doctor in Auschwitz, had performed experiments on female Jewish and Gypsy prisoners; the experiments of particular interest were his attempts to artificially inseminate the prisoners with semen from a gorilla. Apparently, he was successful and a Jewess conceived following such a procedure.
Himler and Hitler became deeply involved and interested in Cleinman�s successful experiments. Hitler believed the breeding of a Jewess and a gorilla fully confirmed, what he had told the world for years, the biological inferiority of the Jewish race.
Following the Russian drive to the west in 1944, Cleinman left Auschwitz with the pregnant Jewess and escaped to Germany. On instructions from an anti-Hitler group in the Wehrmacht, the pregnant prisoner was apparently executed but Cleinman escaped to the Russian zone. The interview with the archivist was only one amongst many, with varied specialists, that was held to try and provide a scientific background to the possibility of human interspecies fertilization. They talked to a molecular biologist who instructs them in comparative molecular biology, the chromosome structure of man and the ape and the possibility of interspecies fertilization.
It was during the panel�s series of interviews that they were asked by the Russian government to attend a meeting with their representatives at the Swiss Embassy in Washington. No explanation was given as to the reason for the meeting other than the cryptic comment, �Janet West, Cleinman East.� The Russian�s tell them that Cleinman and the pregnant woman both escaped to Moscow and that she was not killed by the Wehrmacht, but was delivered of a female Hybrid infant. Miriam, the pregnant Jewess who was delivered of the Hybrid child, was told that the child was stillborn and Miriam was sent to live in Kiev with a Jewish family. With the cooperation of the K.G.B., Cleinman expanded his experiments on interspecies fertilization using female prisoners from the Moscow jail and gorillas from the Moscow and Budapest Zoos. The Russians showed the three members of the State Department panel movies taken during the period 1946 to 1985 which illustrated the growth of the Hybrid population, which in 1989 numbered 15,000 and had grown to this figure in the isolation and secrecy of the Ural Mountains.
Using genetic principles and selective mating, the Hybrid population had characteristics that varied from virtually human to near gorilla. One of the films showed the leader of the Hybrids demanding of a Russian official that the Hybrids be allowed to emigrate to Israel. Reasons why they can be legally considered Jews were given by Moses, the name of the Hybrid leader. The Russians resolve their obvious dilemma by a subterfuge. The Hybrids were all moved by railway cars to what was supposed to be a staging area for Israel, but was actually the recently ruined Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. The 15,000 Hybrids entered the vast power station, the doors were finally closed and tonnes of concrete were poured over the structure, producing a mega-sacrophagus. It was discovered that the leader of the Hybrids, Moses, and seven of his close relatives escaped the �Chernobyl holocaust.�
The next part of the story covers the fate of the eight Hybrids who did not die at Chernobyl. All this information was given to the State Department panel by the three Russians who met the panel in the neutral Swiss Embassy in Washington. The Russian group consisted of Professor Perloff, a renowned geneticist, Catherine Bornoff, the scientific attach� to the Russian Embassy in Washington, and General Ustinoff, a member of the K.G.B. The State Department panel also had an interview with the ex-fianc�e of Janet West who was, in 1994, a member of a religious order of monks in upper New York state, where he was dying. He told the panel the true story of what had occurred to Janet West on the day that she had died and corroborated, in his opinion, Janet West�s entry in the diary of her mating and eventual pregnancy with a gorilla.
Miriam�s brother, Samuel, survived Auschwitz and had constantly searched for Miriam, not believing she was dead. After the war, Samuel became involved with the �Import Broker�, who had procured a rare marrow transplant for his nephew in New York, who was suffering from leukemia. The rarity of the genetic composition of the marrow necessitated it having come from a member of his family, perhaps Miriam or perhaps one of her children. The marrow had indeed come from a Hybrid in the Urals, a relative of Moses, carrying some of Miriam�s genes. Samuel�s search to find the origin of the marrow was, however, unsuccessful.
Dr. Frank Clark and Catherine Bornoff decided to verify the truth about the Hybrids. They visit the Los Angeles Holocaust Centre and learn of the existence and relationship to Miriam of Samuel, her brother, and of Harry, a cousin who like Samuel, also had survived the Holocaust and has procured the marrow transplant for his son. The Los Angeles trail leads them to Miriam�s brother Samuel in Buenos Aries where he is the Israeli Ambassador. Following their meeting with Samuel, they are invited to visit him in Israel where he promises to tell them the further story of the Hybrids they are searching for. They do indeed meet with Samuel at an isolated kibbutz in Israel where they meet Miriam, the eight Hybrids who had survived Chernobyl, and their new children. The Hybrid group in Israel now numbered over twenty. The tragic consequences of Frank Clark�s discovery of the surviving Hybrids in the Israeli desert, his dilemma as to the silence required for the further development of the Hybrid population and his duty as a scientist to make this discovery known to the world, reached a final and tragic outcome in the Israeli desert and finally in a peaceful suburb of Alexandria, Virginia.
The book is not written as, nor is it intended to be, science fiction, but is written as a bio-medical drama which considers many current issues such as who or what is considered human and deserving of due respect and treatment? It also comments on the ethics of organ transplantation of human or animal origin. The apparent clash between Darwinian evolution and creation is discussed. An explanation of modern genetics and molecular biology, together with the highlighting of the responsibility of scientists for their experiments and discoveries, is considered.
Linking these current and important concepts is a drama, spanning 50 years of people caught up in events beyond their control or true understanding.