Saturday, July 19, 2008

Biology in Science Fiction Roundup: July 19 Edition

Here are a few of the biology and/or SF links I've been reading the past couple of weeks. Note that blogging will be light the next couple of weeks due to tag team house guests.

Written Word

In the Amazon.com blog Omnivoracious guest blogger Richard K. Morgan writes about the prejudice against genre fiction in mainstream literary criticism:
There has to be a reason why books like DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little or Yann Martel’s Life of Pi walk off with the Booker prize, while Geoff Ryman’s Air isn’t even short-listed (and it sure as shit ain’t about how good they are, because Ryman’s book pisses all over the other two in every meaningful measure there is of literary quality). There has to be a reason why David Mitchell, Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood can all try their hand (rather clunkily) at visions of a genetically modified future and be reviewed at length for it in the mainstream press on three continents, while a whole host of SF genre writers (of varying but by no means uniformly poor stylistic merit) have been writing confidently and compellingly about exactly the same thing for a couple of decades now at least, and are all summarily ignored (and yes, I am including myself in there, and yes, I am sulking). There has to be a reason why Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 are by-words in the English Literary Canon and Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed is unheard of outside of genre circles. There has to be a reason why- Ah, fuck it, why go on? Sure, there’s a reason, and that reason is blind prejudice.
Mike Brotherton talks about Michael Crichton and anti-science from outside the science fiction "ghetto" .

Television

io9 has a glimpse of the new British sitcom Clone.
The show's main character will be a wimpish clone soldier created by a mad scientist, played by Jonathan Pryce. And the story will be "extremely violent," but super-low-budget [...]

Movies

You can get a "first look" at Repo! The Genetic Opera! movie on July 24th at Comic-Con.
Check out the phenomenon that is this Goth Rock musical with sneak peeks and the new trailer plus stories from Darren and the actors themselves, including Alexa Vega (Spy Kids), Bill Moseley ("The Devil's Rejects"), and Ogre (the band Skinny Puppy), among others. Room 6B
Also, new stills from the movie have been released.

Scott Sigler tells us all about the patriotism of Monster-Americans.

Slice of SciFi has a trailer for "Mutant Chronicles", that premieres in Greece on July 24.

Cool Science

io9 asked SFF authors about the sometimes blurry line between magic and science. I like Ted Chiang's take on it:
Roughly speaking, if you can mass-produce it, it's science, and if you can't, it's magic. As an example, suppose someone says she can transform lead into gold. If we can use her technique to build factories that turn lead into gold by the ton, then she's made an incredible scientific discovery. If on the other hand it's something that only she can do, and only under special conditions, then she's a magician. And I don't mean that she's a charlatan; she might actually be able to transform lead into gold. But scientific phenomena are reproducible by other investigators; they aren't dependent on a specific person.
Torsten Reil gave a TED talk on using biology to make better animation

Inky Circus reports on the winner of the BioArt contest "Best Friends Again" - the 9/11 rescue dog Trakr - who has "won" the chance to be cloned for free

Japanese chemists have created the first DNA molecule "made almost entirely out of artificial parts." LiveScience speculates that the artificial DNA could power future computers.''

National Geographic has a photoessay about beautiful and alien-looking translucent creatures of the sea (via Metafilter).

Jennifer Ouellette writes about hyena communication, both giggles and meaningful groans.

UC Berkeley bioengineering grad student James Su is working on a biodegradable "functionalized biomimetic hydrogel", which can be injected in the eye to correct and prevent myopia (via Mom).

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1 comment:

Mike said...

I'm going to be checking out Mutant Chronicles here in the U.S. when it's released. I hope it's good.