There's a lot going on in Byers' first novel, about a Seattle scientist and his startling discovery of a gene that could halt the onslaught of a fatal degenerative disease. Byers (The Coast of Good Intentions) tackles ethics, community, race, family, the dotcom balloon, and a high-tech city's brash faith in its tenuous good fortune. ''The newspapers were full of a constant old-fashioned boosterism, hooray for Boeing and Microsoft and Amazon, hooray for all of us!'' Hooray for the author's grand scope and compassionate voice. Some mild clucks for the plot's occasional skids and sputters, and the dense passages of science-speak at the expense of the characters. But one looks forward to Byers' follow-up, in which his storytelling may catch up to his ideas.