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The Mother Code

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,670 ratings  ·  318 reviews
What it means to be human-and a mother-is put to the test in Carole Stivers' debut novel set in a world that is more chilling and precarious than ever.

The year is 2049. When a deadly non-viral agent intended for biowarfare spreads out of control, scientists must scramble to ensure the survival of the human race. They turn to their last resort, a plan to place genetically e
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 25th 2020 by Berkley
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Carole Stivers The idea of the "Silver Spirits" is not based on known Hopi prophecy, but rather on a vision which is experienced by Nova Susquetewa's father, Albert,…moreThe idea of the "Silver Spirits" is not based on known Hopi prophecy, but rather on a vision which is experienced by Nova Susquetewa's father, Albert, in The Mother Code (see pages 77-78 of the printed copy). According to Nova, who recounts her father's vision, he had the vision when she was eight years old. In my notes, I had Nova being 24 years old at the time of her mission. Thus, her father's vision would have occurred in our future - in the year 2036.

So yes, I fabricated this idea of the Silver Spirits for the purposes of the story - a vision that for us, occurs at a future time. And though Albert's wife Talasi believes in it in my story, this idea did not even fictionally become an accepted part of Hopi lore - even Nova later surmises that her father may have seen fighter jets training, and mistaken them for something else.

Like everything that happens in this book (I hope), this "vision" of Albert's is purely fictional. In fact, I was careful not to base any key plot points in the book on recorded Hope lore - to respect that lore as sacred to those who believe in it.

Hope that helps!(less)

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Miranda Reads
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it

New week, New BookTube Video - all about the best (and worst) literary apocalypses to live through!
The Written Review :

"If all of this is true, then you are asking me to solve a monumental problem..."
A man made pandemic is released in 2049 and the world is absolutely reeling.

The world's best scientists are scrambling for a cure.

They're not giving up...but they're also coming to the stunning realization.
...we don't have time to save the world.
And so they turn to Plan B - t
Nilufer Ozmekik
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Get ready to flip pages and encounter a quiet disturbing mash-up of two intriguing subgenres: Genetic mutation and fatal disease! When bioterror knocks on your door, you cannot easily run away! So buckle up and join this thrilling sci-fi adventure!

I have to warn you before you jump in without your swimsuits, you gotta have some technical knowledge about the bioweapons, how they function, what changed with their operation skills throughout the years not to keep in the dark. So I can honestly say
Emily May
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2020, sci-fi
But now everything had changed. He'd have to learn, all over again, how this world worked.

The Mother Code was a challenging read for me. Stivers is a Silicon Valley biochemist and, I have to say, this book feels like it was written by a Silicon Valley biochemist. Which I know will be a huge plus for many readers. But, unfortunately, some of the jargon went straight over my head and a couple of times I did pause and wonder if I should continue. Still, I'm glad I did.

From the blurb, I thought
Chalk it up to bad timing!💁🏻‍♀️

I was so excited to read this book since I first heard about it.
Then came Covid-19.🤦🏻‍♀️

I’d put this book off long enough and knew I had to try. But honestly it was a struggle to read about a biological agent that can spread and kill. No matter how dissimilar the book was to our reality, at that point my anxiety was spiking and I knew it was impossible to find any enjoyment going forward.

I’m an RN seeing this virus close-up and personal everyday. No matter how muc
Jeffrey Keeten
”A young child knows Mother as a smelled skin, a halo of light, a strength in the arms, a voice that trembles with feeling. Later the child wakes and discovers this mother--and adds facts to impressions, and historical understanding to facts.” --Annie Dillard, An American Childhood.

It all begins with a bioweapon named IC-NAN that is deployed in the Middle East to kill pesky terrorists hiding in rugged terrain.

It works.

It is supposed to be strategic and controllable.

It is not.

Nature has the fin
Susanne  Strong
A huge fan of Science Fiction, I was looking forward to “The Mother Code” - unfortunately, the terminology used in this novel was a bit beyond me as I don’t know all that much about biowarfare, bioweapons, bioterrorism and genetic mutation. Though the premise truly intrigued me: ensuring the human race, the execution went over my head and I realized that I am the wrong reader for this novel.

This was a buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to Elisha at Penguin Publishing Group for the arc.

Published o
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow, The Mother Code was a bit frightening to read right now- both because it includes a pandemic and because it felt so real.

I’m not a regular reader of science fiction, so some of the technology and terminology was a little beyond me, but that didn’t keep me from being engaged in the story. In the future, the children are “engineered” and have robots for mothers. It’s thought-provoking and well-paced. Overall, I’m grateful I gave sci fi a try with this one and would definitely read more from
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The timing for The Mother Code is just uncanny. I can't help but wonder if this is going to help the readers relate more to the events described by Carol Stivers.

The Mother Code has two timelines that slowly converge. One is following the development of a deadly pandemic that is bringing the civilisation as we know it to its end. The other starts with the birth of a human baby and the way his robot mother is taking care of his needs, including two of the most powerful ones: the need to learn and
Victoria Rose
2.5 stars

The Mother Code is set in the near future wherein the American government releases a biological weapon in the form of a lethal virus into the Middle East, which of course mutates and begins killing everyone, everywhere. Number 1 - with the state of things these days, this is wholly believable. Number 2 - reading about a serious disease attacking lungs is pretty grim right now. Higher ups keep the disease a secret until the last possible moment (why warn people and attempt to save lives?
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
An escaped bioweapon is set to doom the human race in a handful of years. A mad plan turns out to be the only hope: a genetically engineered group of human babies raised by robot mothers as seed of a new human race. Only the scramble to get the project off the ground leads to short cuts that cause all sorts of issues far down the line once the children are being protected by their "mothers" and the few other human survivors are trying to contact them.

This is an unusual apocalypse story, followin
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Actual Rating: 2.5 stars

The Mother Code has some interesting ideas, but the execution is...messy. I can definitely see why the film rights were snapped up. This could easily be a blockbuster film, but as a novel it isn't great. This is a apocalyptic novel about robots designed to birth and raise the last human babies after a biological weapon goes very wrong. Like I said, the idea and basic plot are really interesting.

However, the structure and tone of the book are strange. Initially we go betw
Rebecca | Velvet Opus
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
"What does it mean to be a mother?"

A warms-up-as-it-goes-along story about humanity's paradoxical desire to destroy and to survive and the pure, sweet miracle of children. As with every good post-apocalyptic novel, military secrets, biological warfare and attempted military control causes, frankly, the end of life as we know it. Robot mothers are designed to birth children genetically-engineered to survive in this new world.

"She called it the Mother Code, a computer code meant to embody the ver
Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
This book was not what I was expecting! It was a bit more technical than I expected and I wasn't really able to follow along very well. I think people who are more into science fiction would be a better audience than myself. I wasn't sure on some terms and felt that I couldn't follow along enough to finish the book.

Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Maybe I'm unfair to authors who come up with a great premise since I start off with really high expectations for them to deliver. Robots having to raise children in a post-apocalyptic setting is such a gold mine of material to play with that it feels like a let down when almost none of that potential is utilized. How different are these children? Not that different apparently. How do they treat these maternal surrogates? Like useful robots they've grown attached to since they've been the only in ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
How does one form a sense of self?

That is the deep universal question underlying THE MOTHER CODE, where 50 embryos are sent out with only their robot mothers to survive a worldwide and manmade pandemic (making me wonder how the Coronavirus really originated).

It's always a good sign when I find myself cheering on my favorite characters, wanting to shake some sense into others, and mourning over ones I care about. I absolutely understand why Steven Spielberg is going to make this into a movie. I
Liz Barnsley
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Mother Code is an extremely clever and addictive post apocalyptic drama, exploring parental relationships and our increasing reliance on technology – a thought provoking, atmospheric narrative that keeps you immersed throughout.

The end of human existence as we know it has been done many times in literature – Carole Stivers manages to put a new twist on it, presenting us with a multi layered emotionally resonant story featuring a group of characters both human and machine, setting them agains
I'm DNF'ing. Every time I contemplate returning to this story, I pick up a different book or short story instead. So, that tells me I really don't want to continue this. ...more
Aug 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, women-2020
Not bad at all- just a decent average story without too many surprises. Quick read.
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio, overdrive, dnf
Full of technobabble and info dumps.Nothing drew me into this story.
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The year is 2049 and a deadly non-viral agent intended for biowarfare is spreading out of control. Scientists are scrambling to create a solution, but as more and more people become sick it seems a cure is impossible. These scientists begin working on a way to ensure the survival of the human race by putting a plan into place to genetically engineer children inside cocoons of large-scale robots. A future awaits where these children will be incubated, birthed, and raised by machines. These robots ...more
For the first 1/4 of this book I was legit thinking this was going to be a contender for my annual Top Five reads. As a debut it’s remarkably self-assured, with solid characters, an interesting premise, and decent dialogue. I like the technothriller scary science stuff, which certainly sounds plausible, with the addition of manga-esque mechs which make sense given the setup, all of it easily shifting from a disease apocalypse to a post-apocalyptic battle for survival.

But then the little things s
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I received this book as a result of a Goodreads Giveaway, and I was quite looking forward to it. It sounded very Asimov-ish. Then, when I started reading it, I was pleasantly surprised, because two of my favorite subgenres are diseases and genetic mutation. It seemed like this book was right up my alley. I must admit to enjoying the bioterror aspects of the book more than I enjoyed the robotics, though the two are intertwined. I liked the book.

Now, in saying that I liked the book, there are two
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

So, I had some mixed feelings for this book. The premise was solid and intriguing, and the science behind it fascinating—not surprising, considering the author is a biochemist by trade and is clearly knows her subject. But on the flip side, the weaker story elements made for a frustrating, unfocused read.

It is the year 2049. Civilization as we know it is about to end, as a DNA-based nano bioweapon is unleashed upon the wor
WTF Are You Reading?
All I can say about Carole Stivers' The Mother Code is a truly heartfelt WOW!
This book is an amazing and somewhat mind-binding look into what could very well be our not to distant future.
The bio-weapon.
The mistakes.
The cover-up
The solution
So many parts of a very complex human puzzle.
That of the continuation of the human species. Against all odds. And in the face of sure extinction.
If not for one key factor. The technology of a mother. Programmed into machines. Machines built to protect. Machines
Nov 02, 2019 marked it as dnf
I won this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.

Lovely idea but just not for me.
Saar The Book owl
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Well, I have to say: this wasn't the best moment to read this book with a pandemic happening, but I had to try and I'm glad I did, because, this book had me sitting on the edge of my seat nearing the end of the story.
*Spoiler*It's the year 2049 and scientists developed a deadly non-virus for biowarfare, but things go not as planned and soon humans are starting to get infected with and died not later after. The scientists and other important persons of the labs, military...are trying to find a s
Feb 16, 2021 rated it liked it
"The Mother Code" is a very and I'm sure inadvertently timely book. Premise: The U.S. government has accidentally unleashed a deadly virus that is 100% lethal and will eventually destroy every human's lungs. Every single one. The book simultaneously tells the story of the government scientists racing to stop and/or ameliorate this disaster and the aftermath of their work. Eventually the two timelines meet up. The aftermath is that bioengineered children are now being raised in the Southwest dese ...more
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not a big fan of science fiction but I wanted to give this a try. I liked it but didn't love it. It was hard for me to get into and stay with it. With everything happening now with a virus floating around this might be a good read for someone else. Someone that likes science fiction more than I do. It was good and written well. It was all technical science things that threw me off.

Novels N Latte
Hudson Valley NY
Kriti | Armed with A Book
As a computing scientist, I love reading about Artificial Intelligence in fiction, whether it is the science behind it, the coding, or the ethical aspects and perceptions of humans. The Mother Code was a fantastic read that made me shed many tears. Going back and forth in time for Part 1 and then unifying the narrative of all the characters in Part 2, The Mother Code is the story about the dire situation in which intelligent robots were created to not only give successful birth to humans but als ...more
Rhiannon Johnson
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I think we all fall into one of two camps when it comes to reading about pandemics in the middle of a pandemic:⁠
1. Uh no, way too meta.⁠
2. ohhh yes, let me see what the similarities and differences are here...⁠

I fall firmly in the second camp. I have loved dystopian, pandemic, and post-apocalyptic novels for about 20 years and I'm still loving them in the midst of our current world health crisis. I started readi
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Carole Stivers is a Silicon Valley biochemist whose "home genre" is science fiction. Her near-future science fiction novel The Mother Code is on track for publication by Berkley Books (Penguin Random House) in May 2020. It has already been sold in countries around the world, including the UK, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, and Brazil. And, it was recently optioned for film by Steven Spielberg's ...more

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"Oh, we are living a dystopian reality!" You've heard it, you may have even said it. But despite what's happening in the world—or maybe because...
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