Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra
The law of unintended consequences, first articulated by sociologist Robert K. Merton, states that “outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.”  The more complex the system in view, the more likely it will behave in ways unexpected when subjected to a shock. While the law of unintended consequences may seem like nothing more than common sense, it is the bane of presidents forced to make decisions under uncertain conditions—the future is seldom known or influenced with absolute certainty.
In his novel, The Labbitt Halsey Protocol, Andrew Ryan explores the consequences of genetic engineering to improve human intelligence that has gone horribly wrong. Consider participating in a program that would raise the intelligence level of your children to genius level and has no known side effects. Would you participate? What if you refuse—how could you retire in a world where all the children, except yours, were geniuses? Now, fast forward 15 years and almost all the children participating in the program end up committing suicide—so much so that local police and hospitals are reluctant to intervene. How would you, as a parent who participated, respond to the prospects facing your only child?
This is the setting where we meet Ann Franklin, a very talented, attractive, and upwardly mobile defense contractor living and working in Northern Virginia for Steady State Technologies (SST), a small defense contractor. Ann is a graduate of the University of Virginia business school, she is the daughter of Dr. Henry Franklin, a retired philosophy professor, and her only son, Jeremy, participated in the Labbit Halsey Genomics company protocol, known as the X-chromosome embryogentic neuroenhancement (XEN). Participating in the protocol makes Jeremy an Xen kid whose average intelligence tests out at about 150. Jeremy’s father is missing in action leaving Ann a single mom raising an Xen kid while scaling the heights of the government contracting world (1-12).
Conflict in this scenario arises as Ann simultaneously succeeds in promoting a large defense contract, while quietly beginning an affair with one of contracting officers, and in launching a personal campaign to save Jeremy. Before all is said and done, SST beats the odds to win the contract and establish Ann’s career; Ann is able to save Jeremy, but at a terrible cost to her own mental and physical health. The story of how this all came about makes The Labbitt Halsey Protocol a true page-turner.
Andrew Ryan is a U.S. Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm who earned his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Louisiana State University and continues to study physics, cosmology, and neuroscience. His newest book, The Substance of Spacetime: Infinity, Nothingness, and the Nature of Matter, was released in 2016 and it is a nonfiction work “in theoretical physics that reimagines spacetime, not as a two-dimensional coordinate system, but as a real three-dimensional substance.” 
Ryan and I met at the library in Leesburg, Virginia while we were attending Indie Author Day (October 8, 2016) where we exchanged books and conversation between book sales to the general public.
I am not typically a novel reader. The Labbitt Halsey Protocol caught my attention both because of the psychological drama and the proximity to my own experiences both as a parent and as a defense contractor. Having a bipolar child, for example, I volunteered at one point to work in psychiatric ward, which was not unlike Ann’s quest to navigate the Xen underground. (For the uninitiated, psychiatric patients are typically above-average intelligence, just like the Xen). Having worked as a consultant in and around Tyson’s Corner, I had a send-off from one job in Clyde’s Restaurant—one of the restaurants where Ann had a dangerous liaison. Thus, at least for me, reading The Labbitt Halsey Protocol included a lot of déjà vu moments—it was surreal; it kept my attention; and it kept me up sleepless a couple nights. Great read.