I believe this book was published in the 1970s or 1980s. What I remember is that it was about a boy whose DNA was modified (using insect DNA?) before birth by his father, who was a genetic researcher.

These genetic modifications made the boy incredibly strong, strong enough that he was able to single handedly cut and carry large stone blocks, which he used to build (in the forest near his home?) a large fort/fortress. The fort/fortress was subsequently discovered by archeologists/anthropologists, who wrongly concluded the fort must have been built hundreds of years ago, and claimed it as a protected archeological/historical site (evicting the boy from his fort).

I believe this only describes the first few chapters, but I don't recall anything about the rest of the book (covering the boy's adulthood?), except (possibly) that he was on the run from a government(?) agency.

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    All boys are genetically modified by their fathers. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 2:29
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    @Organic Marble - If I am the coauthor of the first draft of a book, would you say I "edited" that book? Doesn't "modified" have a similar meaning?
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 2:45
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    It was an apparently failed attempt at humor. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 3:03
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    Duplicate with scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/103568/…. The description about the large stones, the fort etc. matches the book. Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 12:07
  • Agreed. It's too good of a match to not be the case.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


Gladiator, by Philip Wylie.

The story begins at the turn of the 20th century. Professor Abednego Danner lives in a small, rural Colorado town, and has a somewhat unhappy marriage to a conservative religious woman. Obsessed with unlocking genetic potential, Danner experiments with a tadpole (which breaks through the bowl he's keeping it in), and a pregnant cat, whose kitten displays incredible strength and speed, managing to maul larger animals. Fearing the cat may be uncontrollable, Danner poisons it. When his wife becomes pregnant with their first child, Danner duplicates his experiment on his unknowing wife.

Their child Hugo almost immediately displays incredible strength, and Danner’s wife realizes what her husband has done. Though she hates him, she does not leave him, and they instead raise their son to be respectful of his incredible gift and sternly instruct him never to fight, or otherwise reveal his gifts, lest he be the target of a witch-hunt. Hugo grows up being bullied at school, unwilling to fight back. However, he finds release when he discovers the freedom the wilderness around his hometown provides, unleashing his great strength on trees as a manner of playing.

I haven't actually read it, but it appears to match.

Here is the fort scene courtesy of Project Gutenberg:

He jumped over its craggy edge and walked to its centre. There he selected a high place and with his hands he cleared away the growth that covered it. Next he laid the foundations of a fort, over which he was to watch the fastnesses for imaginary enemies. The foundations were made of boulders. Some he carried and some he rolled from the floor of the man-made canyon. By the end of the afternoon he had laid out a square wall of rock some three feet in height. On the next day he added to it until the four walls reached as high as he could stretch. He left space for one door and he made a single window. He roofed the walls with the trunks of trees and he erected a turret over the door.


"Moonshiners," Smith whispered.
"Rubbish. Moonshiners don't build like that. It's a second Stonehenge. An Indian relic."


"Can you tell us anything about these ruins?"
"What ruins?"
They pointed to his fort. Hugo was hurt. "Those aren't ruins. I built that fort. It's to fight Indians in."
The pair ignored his answer and started toward the fort. Hugo did not protest. They surveyed its weighty walls and its relatively new roof.
"Looks recent," Smith said.
"This child has evidently renovated it. But it must have stood here for thousands of years."
"It didn't. I made it—mostly last week."
They noticed him again. Whitaker simpered. "Don't lie, young man."

  • @FuzzyBoots that wasn't a drastic edit at all :P
    – Mithical
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:30
  • :-P I tried to quote as little as I could while keeping the context.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 13:01
  • I've read it. It's not bad. It is very clearly something Superman was based on. It also deals with the difficulties of being a child and not being able to defend yourself for fear of hurting others.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 13:18

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