THE ICELANDIC CURE, BY J.D. MOYER
In J.D. Moyer’s The Icelandic Cure, Jane Tokugawa is the lead scientist sent to investigate whether new genetic therapy treatments in Iceland risk inciting a global epidemic. Each chapter reads as one of Jane’s journal entries, detailing her suspicions and discoveries about the truth of the Icelandic medical advancements, as well as her own government’s interests. The chapbook prioritizes a well-paced plot and subtext-laden dialogue over description, including atmospheric details that would have solidified the setting. The nuances of characterization are successful in rendering believable Icelanders and motivationally complicated Americans.
The primary impetus for Moyer’s chapbook is the morally ambiguous matter of genetic engineering, which should haunt any advancing medical establishment. Moyer’s research into neurology and gene therapy gives Jane a credible persona. Her intellectual progress as she unearths fragments of the mystery is lovingly tied to the ever-greater—and ever more crucial—questions of self-determination. While Moyer presents Jane with an emotional arc that is somewhat threadbare, this minimalism leaves ample space for all the ethical discussions which form the heart of his story. Jane writes, “Who wouldn’t fix a genetic flaw or two if they could?” Beyond the human desire for personal improvement, the consequences of this technology involve systemic corruption and the preservation of our right to choose.