Urbana, IL; Golden Gryphon Press, 2003. 1st hardcover edition. SF novel by this award winning author. Fine in fine dj. Early in the 21st Century, global warming has noticeably increased temperatures and caused sickness and death among plants, animals, and humans. Suddenly a small group of unrelated fourteen-year-olds falls into a coma. Medical investigations determine that they have been genetically modified, by agents and persons unknown, and the changes in their genetic code deal mainly with their olfactory senses. When the children finally awake, they announce the coming of beneficial aliens, which they can "smell." Using the children as go-betweens, the unseen, undetected aliens provide cures for cancer and other deadly ailments. Then, suddenly, the aliens invite the modified children to visit their spacecraft.
The children who accept the invitation are schooled in genetics, but learn little of the aliens — who look exactly like humans. After several months aboard the ship, the children are almost driven to form romantic pairs. Then one of the brighter students discovers that the aliens have been manipulating and controlling them, and destroys the source of control. Realizing that they have been compelled all along, the children rebel, but are easily overcome and returned to Earth — a totally different Earth. All of the girls discover that they are pregnant, and can only wonder what their children will be. They settle in New Mexico, with a group of the "children" that did not accept the invitation to visit the spaceship, and try to resume their lives.
Foreseeing that the Earth will become uninhabitable from the dual scourges of global warming and biowarfare, the alien "pribir" seek to change humanity, by changing their genetic code, to allow them to live and prosper in their new environment. But, after all the generations of change, will the genetically modified creatures resemble their ancestors, or will nothing human remain?
Cover art by Bob Eggleton. SIGNED BY BOTH AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR.