Will X-Men-style superhumans become a reality in our lifetime?

The poster for the new Xmen film The Wolverine 3D coming in 2013 - in an article about genetic technology, superhuman powers and Ian Tregillis's Milkweed novels starting with Bitter Seeds
Poster for The Wolverine 3d film – coming in July 2013

I was interested (and I’ll admit it – a little excited) to read this recent article, stating that advances in gene technology could lead to a race of genetically superior human beings by the year 2045. These were apparently the findings of a Ministry of Defence think tank during a two-day summit last summer.

Alright – so sources such as The Sun and The Daily Mail might have sensationalised the think tank’s statements a touch by claiming that in a few years time, people will have Wolverine-style adamantium claws busting out all over the shop, and will be spontaneously whipping up tornadoes left, right and centre à la Storm.

But although a real-life X-men army might not exactly be right round the corner – the underlying gist of the claim could be entirely reasonable: that we’ll likely soon be using genetic technology to enhance the strength of the human body, to eliminate imperfections and to increase stamina.

But as time goes on, who knows what the limitations will be? Who knows if by genetically developing certain parts of the brain, we’ll discover unknown abilities – telekinesis, psychic powers, control over natural elements? One needs to have an open mind, and it might not happen in 30 years time – but it’s not entirely beyond belief.

Neither are the apparent risks and dangers that certain individuals developing those powers would present.

The MoD think tank also claimed that “it is possible that advances in biology, unequally shared across society, could generate genetic inequality”.

Bitter Seeds, book one in the Milkweed Triptych by Ian Tregillis - in an article discussing the possibility of X-men style superhumans becoming a realityBut it might not just be within one particular society that inequality is a risk. What happens, in fact, if one nation develops superhumans before another? Will it lead to an “arms race” of human augmentation, the winner of which will become the next superpower?

This is the terrifying and thrilling concept behind the Milkweed trilogy by Ian Tregillis. It starts with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ), and concludes with NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ – releasing this coming Tuesday).

The Coldest War, book two in the Milkweed Triptych following Bitter Seeds, by Ian Tregillis - in an article discussing the possibility of X-men style superhumans becoming a realityThis fantasy series shows the dangers of superhuman abilities falling into the wrong hands. A Nazi scientist has invented a way to imbue ordinary individuals with extraordinary powers – to walk through walls, hurl tanks into the air, burst into flames and see into the future. They have become almost unstoppable – and the British army knows it.

The British are left with little choice but to resort to summoning dark powers of their own – unnatural demon entities that can affect the course of history, and might just help them to hold back the horrors of the Third Reich.

But the actions of the British warlocks are not without consequences – and the forces they summon will demand brutal sacrifices to do the bidding of the British.

The novels that Ian has produced are phenomenal – his writing is chilling, intense, beautifully crafted, intelligent and simply unmissable. There are more than a few people who agree:

A major talent . . . I can’t wait to see more’ – George R. R. Martin

Mad English warlocks battling twisted Nazi psychics? Yes please, thank you. Tregillis’s debut has a white-knuckle plot, beautiful descriptions, and complex characters – an unstoppable Vickers of a novel’ – Cory Doctorow

Necessary EvilRemarkable . . . A confident and thrilling debut’ – SFX Magazine

‘Magic and mad science mix in this entertaining alternate history of WWII . . . A striking first novel’ – Locus

Just superb’ – Fantasy Book Critic

‘Tregillis delivers a dynamite first novel in Bitter Seeds’ – SFRevu

An excellent first book, and I am eagerly awaiting number two’ – Elizabeth Bear

‘A damned entertaining novel . . . The novel receives my highest recommendations’ – SFFWorld

‘I’ll be looking forward to the next installment with bated breath’ – The Eloquent Page

‘A core of brilliant darkness that pulls you in page after page’ – Paul Genese

‘Nothing short of an awesome read as far as I’m concerned’ – Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

‘Easily one of the most impressive debut works I’ve read’  – Bookworm Blues


BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ) are available from all good retailers, and you can pre-order NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ) right now.