I am trying to find out the title of a book. I read the book sometime between 2004 and 2010 I believe. It was a science fiction book about genetic engineering. I know in the book they were mixing human and animal DNA after I think the main character was using to to cure a disease.

I just remember the end of the book mostly and at the very end I believe it had two humans who had engineered themselves to be able to stay in outer space. I believe they had wings as well. I also remember a part where someone had used snake DNA to have poisonous fingernails, I believe. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • I'm also looking for this book. I believe the author is female. What I remember is there is a virus going around and some guy uses genetic engineering to cure the disease as well as modify other people's bodys. He and his gf modify themselves and eventually end up in space as the op said. I really want to find the title of this book
    – Mr.Black
    Sep 5, 2022 at 4:44
  • @Mr.Black Maybe my answer(The Changeling Plague) is the book you're looking for? Jul 12, 2023 at 9:21

3 Answers 3


This sounds like it could be the Ousters in Rise of Endymion, by Dan Simmons. This is canary depicting them with wings.

The book was written in 1997 so it would have come before your earliest remembrance. While the book is about a lot of things, one of the more memorable moments for me took place in the last quarter of the book, where the two main characters Raul and Aenea are in conversation about the direction of evolution for humans, which is controlled by the Church.

It doesn't have to be just plants. Life adapts . . . birds, men and women in flying machines, you and me in paraglider, people adapted to flight . . .

They then encounter an antagonist, Nemes, who has fingers that grow out into blades and seriously injures Raul.

Nemes held up her hands and her fingernails - already pale and long - extended another ten centimeters, flowing into streaming spikes. Names reached dow with those sharpened nails and peeled back the skin and flesh of her right forearm, revealing some sort of metallic endoskeleton that was the color of steel but which looked infinitely sharper.

After this encounter, Raul wakes up with another character, and it feels like they are able to survive in space at first:

We were in space. The surrounding pod had simply disappeared. We were floating in space - seemed to be floating in space, except for the presence of air to breathe - and we were far out on a branch of a . . .

They then encounter the Ousters, people who have evolved to survive in space, and have certain animal characteristics such as webbed hands, wings, and also exist with other alien races who have evolved to survive in space.

These colonists, our ancestors - most traveling in cold sleep deeper than cryogenic fugue - were among the best ARNists, nanotech, and genetic engineers Old Earth System had to offer. Their missions were to find habitable worlds and - in the absence of terraforming technology - to bio-engineer and nanotech the millions of Old Earth life-forms frozen aboard their ships into viable adaptations for those worlds

I particularly like this description where Raul sees the Ousters in flight:

Everywhere was life and motion: Ouster angels with hundred-klick wings not only flitted among the branches and beyond the leaves, but were hurled deeper into space - inward toward the sun, more quickly outward past the ten-thousand klick root systems; a myriad of smaller life forms shimmered in the blue envelope of atmosphere.

Raul and Aenea don't actually engineer themselves to live in space, but at certain moments in the story it certainly feels like they could have lived among the other Ousters in this way. While the focus of the book isn't on genetic engineering, it's a very memorable section and is a strong theme in this latter part of the book.


I believe that this is The Changeling Plague by Syne Mitchell, first published in 2003.

From a review on Goodreads:

a guy with money and cystic fibrosis [Geoffrey Allen] plays fast and loose with a genetic researcher who crafts a virus to correct his disease at the DNA level. Of course, the researcher didn't code for patients without CF, and didn't think the virus could get out into the wild.

This is the "plague" of the title, which indeed escapes from the lab and acts to reshape humanity by rewriting their DNA. The escape is discovered by a computer hacker/genius called Idaho. He works out how to use the plague to modify his own body - one of the modifications being arming himself with venomous fingernails:

Idaho held out his right hand; out of cartilage sheaths under his fingernails, he extruded all five fangs. Deadly jeweled drops formed on the ends... “The plague is more than a disease.” He brought his fist together. “It’s an opportunity. Left to its own devices, it will rewrite your DNA with random mutations. But directed” — he flexed his hand and the fangs slid back into their sheaths beneath his fingernails — “it can rebuild you in any way you desire.”

At the end of the book, in a rather peculiar Epilogue, it is revealed that Idaho and his girlfriend have modified their bodies to allow them to live in space, orbiting Jupiter:

His body was its own self-contained space suit. Algae in his bloodstream recycled what little oxygen his new metabolism needed, and the venting orifices of his body ensured that his internal pressure was equalized with that of the gas giant. Insulating flesh kept out the heat and cold of space.

In particular they have given themselves wings to maneuver in Jupiter's atmosphere:

Idaho contracted his stomach and tacked his wings, pivoting his body so he faced downwind... She looked very much like a pterodactyl, with her shielded eyes and sleek, winged body.

The book is available for free loan from the Internet Library.


It sounds to me like The Bohr Maker from Linda Magada. Here's the description from GoodReads. This is the first book of a trilogy.

Nikko is the first true "post human"-a man genetically engineered to survive in the airless void of space-but the research permit that allows his existence is about to expire. His body has already begun an insidious, pre-programmed failure that will end in his death. Nikko's only hope for survival rides on an illegal and extremely powerful nanotech device known as the Bohr Maker, that will allow him to rewrite his genetic code and extend his life.

  • I've downloaded a copy and browsed through it, and I've found no mention of curing diseases, snake DNA, or venomous fingernails. Am I missing something?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Aug 23, 2021 at 19:05
  • Nikko is genetically engineered to live in space. The enhancements are set to kill him after a time. He is searching for the cure (the Bohr Maker of the title). At some point in the story, he grows wings as well. I read this a couple of years ago and your description brought it to mind.
    – mjenkins
    Aug 24, 2021 at 21:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.