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Collins, Helen

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1937-    ) US biologist, teacher and author whose loose Genesis sequence contains two thematically linked volumes to date. The first, Mutagenesis (1993; rev MutaGenesis 2011), packs a wide range of material into its moderate compass. After recovering from a Long Night caused by Ecological devastation, an expedition from Earth rediscovers an old colony planet, where some original plant species still survive as well as a strangely-evolved human, in which women are required to be almost totally passive (see Feminism; Women in SF); the underlying oddness is partially explained through the discovery of a mysterious Alien species (see First Contact), "doctors" who have manipulated the genetic stock of the colonists, apparently for Eugenic reasons. The tale expands into a quest-saga in Planetary Romance style as the female protagonist, whose speciality is Genetic Engineering, accompanies some unusually independent native women who have escaped the yoke, learning much: the plot embodies a number of Twice-Told fairy tales, and includes an interesting presentation of the "geneslave" concept (the term comes from Elizabeth Hand's Winterlong sequence). The second tale, NeuroGenesis (2008; rev 2013), explores the environmental contexts within which, it is argued, the complex neurological networks that comprise Intelligence develop. An expedition to a nearby planet – during the course of which a Computer is meant to undergo Evolution into an AI through interaction with the human crew – goes astray, landing on a planet whose Alien inhabitants exhibit forms of consciousness that illuminate the nature of the computer's developing consciousness.

Collins's other novel, Egret (2001), is not fantastic. [JC]

Helen Francis Collins

born New London, Connecticut: July 1937




  • Mutagenesis (New York: Tor, 1993) [Genesis: hb/Nicholas Jainschigg]
    • MutaGenesis (Niantic, Connecticut: Niantic Press, 2011) [rev vt of the above: Genesis: pb/]
  • NeuroGenesis (United States:, 2008) [Genesis: pb/Peter Dingus]
    • NeuroGenesis (Niantic, Connecticut: Niantic Press, 2013) [rev of the above: Genesis: pb/]


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