RELEASED IN 2013: Victor Robert Lee's provocative debut spy thriller introduces a protagonist to rival the most memorable espionage heroes. Cono is a startling young man of mixed and haunting heritage who has been gifted - or cursed - with an accelerated nervous system. An orphan and a loner, he acts as a freelance spy, happy to use his strange talents in the service of dubious organizations and governments - until, in Kazakhstan, on a personal mission to rescue a former lover, he is sucked into a deadly maelstrom of betrayal that forces him to question all notions of friendship and allegiance.
Relevant to our times, PERFORMANCE ANOMALIES explores the expansion of Beijing's imperial reach into Central Asia, and the takeover of Kazakhstan. Cono's main adversary is a brutal Beijing agent whose personality has been twisted by the Cultural Revolution's devastation of his family. Victor Robert Lee's topical depiction of a Beijing government pursuing territorial expansion resonates with current tensions over China's claims on the entire South China Sea.
PERFORMANCE ANOMALIES travels from Brazil and Stanford to Almaty and the Tian Shan mountains, covering a tumultuous emotional landscape along the way. The fate of an oil-rich nation the size of Western Europe is at stake. So, too, is a hidden stockpile of weapons-grade uranium. The Beijing agent craves Cono's suffering; a jihadi cell wants him dead. As the human cost of his mission escalates, Cono realizes that he must turn his strange talents toward higher deeds in the future - if by his guile he can survive the explosive present.
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Performance anomalies are highly unusual abilities that arise in a tiny number of individuals, due to rare genetic mutations. In real life, several performance anomalies have recently been identified. Some rare individuals, for example, do not register pain. A Finnish cross-country skiing champion has a mutated receptor that results in his body cranking out extra red blood cells, which is a significant advantage in aerobic sports. A baby was born in Germany a few years ago with bulging muscles, later traced to a mutation in his myostatin gene. There are more examples, and it is likely that others will be discovered.
More at performance-anomalies-thebook.com.
Cono's brain has a much faster processing speed than that of neuro-typicals, so he can perceive the details of fleeting events, and he can process information and react with astonishing speed. It's not as far out as you might think. A few years ago researchers reported in the journal Science that during sleep, memories of real-time experiences are processed by the brain at a higher speed than while awake--six to seven times faster. They conclude: "When behavioral constraints are removed, the brain's intrinsic processing speed may be much faster than it is in real time."
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