Saturday, January 19, 2008

Biology in Science Fiction Roundup: January 19 Edition

A few Biology in Science Fiction bits from around the web:

Peter Mc at The Beagle Project Blog asks where are the fictional scientific heroes for our young people?
But where are the books for children and teenagers in which evolution does not cause mutated threats to the human race, where science and scientists save humanity and get the credit. Where scientists get the natty threads and the whip-crack one-liners. Where they don't just get to watch while their good work is taken by a cut lead man or woman and put to good use.
He's asking for some good science-based fiction for 2009.

Greg Burgas at Comics Should be Good blog lists his picks for the best comics of the year. Elephantmen by Richard Starkings and Moritat is one of his picks for best ongoing series.

Starkings’ science fiction tale, like all good sci-fi, illuminates issues that we grapple with in the present, such as war, bigotry, genetic engineering, and an unfair class system. [. . . ] Obadiah Horn and his consort, Sahara, are two other beautifully realized characters, giving us a view of what happens when a human-animal hybrid seizes power within Los Angeles and the prejudices he and the woman he loves faces. Like all good villains, Obadiah Horn isn’t completely villainous, and the tender moments he shares with Sahara make his dark side even more horrifice.

Slice of SciFi reports on the new internet-only series "IQ 145":
Shot almost entirely in front of green screen in hi-def, the series will follow Nate Palmer, the son of a renowned, inventor/futurist. Nate’s father, not known for fits of depression has mysteriously committed suicide. Nate is recruited by a secret organization to help search for his father’s last experiment but will soon discover that it is he that is the experiment.
IQ 145 starts next week.

J. Craig Venter isn't just about synthetic organisms. He recently announce that he had sequence his own genome and revealed his genetic traits to the public. The New Haven Advocate asked Yale professor Jim Noonan and Stanford professor Bill Hurlbut whether they thought that meant we are heading towards a real-life Gattaca. Noonan said:
"The problem with the movie Gattaca is that it's assumed that these are guaranteed diseases and conditions, whereas that's not the case." According to Noonan, the associated risks for these genetic indicators "aren't 50 percent—they're more like 5 percent." Still, he worries the information could be used irresponsibly, even discriminatorily.
io9 takes a look at the upcoming movie Sleep Dealer:
In Sleep Dealer, the U.S. has finally succeeded in stopping illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico. But Mexicans can still work in American factories and farms for almost no money, thanks to the miracle of telecommuting. The people in Alex Rivera's film hook up their nervous systems to the Internet to control robots in the U.S., but it takes a toll on them, as you can see from the spooky clip and stills above. The film's title refers to workers who get so drained they collapse.
Greg L. Johnson lists his favorite science fiction books of 2007 for SF Site, including Thirteen by Richard Morgan:
Speaking of paranoia, Thirteen reeks of it. Set in a near-future Earth where concerns with genetically-influenced behavior has become a world-wide obsession, the 'thirteens' are humans whose genetic structure has been altered to remove most, if not all, of their inhibitions toward sudden, inter-personal violence. The main character is one of the thirteens, and it is a major achievement of Richard Morgan's novel that as the story goes on, the reader's sympathies align more and more with the actions of a character who scares the entire world.

Robert Sawyer writes about movie adaptations of Pierre Boulle's La Plan├Ęte des singes (AKA Planet of the Apes).

Finally, Jay Garmon writes about "75 words every sci-fi fan should know" for TechRepublic. A few bioscience terms made his list, including (via ).
  1. mindfood (n.)
  2. posthuman (n.)
  3. sapient (n.)
  4. sentience (n.)
  5. wetware (n.)
  6. xenology (n.)

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