Set in a near and eminently recognizable future, They Know Not What They Do knits together elements of speculative thriller and farcical, Franzenesque familial study as successful neuroscientist Joe is forced to come to terms with the unintended consequences of his research and the personal choices of his youth. Estranged from his oldest son, an animal rights activist he has for all intents and purposes abandoned, Joe finds his relationships with his second wife and younger children are also breaking down as technology invades their private lives, while the science he has devoted his life to has made him a target of increasingly alarming threats. This suspenseful story of corporate and media encroachment in our daily lives, gun violence, ecological activism, and unprecedented uses of neurological science is an eerie portrait of the rapid social changes of our present moment.
Reviews of They Know Not What They Do:
This hugely ambitious work of contemporary realism offers a dramatic warning about the influence of digital culture. – Booklist
Valtonen’s grip on plot and character is so masterful that his storytelling easily contains his restless speculation about influences on how we live now and where we might end up as our old value systems begin to crumble. – Anna Paterson, World Literature Today
Literary fiction meets sci-fi meets thriller in a gripping exploration of animal rights, the light and dark of new technologies, international academia, and the dynamics within modern families. – Will Dean, author of Dark Pines