1. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Scifi about genetic engineering

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by arron89, Jan 25, 2011.

    Hey cats,

    I'm starting work on a project with a friend, and we've both agreed that we want to make it a realistic science fiction story, and since biology and genetics are the areas where I'm most knowledgeable, I'm basing it around those concepts.

    Buuut, I don't really read any science fiction at all, and I feel like I should read around a bit, find some more inspiration, see what's been done before.

    So, if any of you more avid scifi (or non-scifi) readers have any recommendations for books relating to things like genetic engineering, ideally in a realistic setting, I'd love to hear them. Things along the lines of Gattaca, Never Let Me Go, that kinda thing.
     
  2. LCC
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    Hmm. The most obvious is "Barrayar" by Lois McMaster Bujold, which explores a society RUN by genetic designers.

    If you want a story about machine evolution more or less, then you might try "Code of the Lifemaker" by James P. Hogan.

    What do you mean by the constraint "realistic setting"? LOL, if you want realism, stay away from science fiction and fantasy, just read professional journals...

    Lonnie Courtney Clay
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Well, the story is set more or less in our society, but either a little further ahead, or on an alternate timeline. Personal genetic engineering has just become viable, and the story will explore the social ramifications of this. New class divisions, religious implications, ethics, things like that.

    So I'm looking for science fiction in a more-or-less realistic setting very close to the world now, that explores social change as a result of some new scientific or technological advancement.
     
  4. LCC
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    Hmm again, better stick to professional journals, plenty of source material on ethics and implications there. Alternatively, you could romp through "Friday" by Robert Heinlein, where the main character is "lab born" and suffers exploitative or sympathetic treatment depending upon the inclinations of those who deal with her...

    You might also want to read "Serpent's Reach" by C. J. Cherryh, where a three tier society exists, with long lived at the top, natural borns in the middle, and lab born at the bottom. Other novels by her deal with that class structure, in particular "Cyteen".

    The consensus of opinion among science fiction writers seems to be that there will exist extreme prejudice against anyone with the "misfortune" to be born with tailored genes, especially if they compound their offense by being in any way superior to the "natural" born people. "Barrayar" is the only counter example which I can easily recall...

    Lonnie Courtney Clay
     
  5. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you familiar with the Warhammer 40k game/story setting?

    The lore for the series, especially concerning space marines, has a lot of stuff related to genetic engineering The lore is worth the read. :)
     
  6. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry for the double post but I see no one mentioned the Dune book series. It doesn't deal so much with genetic engineering as it does selective breeding.

    The sorceresses in Dune have been selectively breeding with the strongest human bloodlines to create a sorceress that would be able to lead mankind into a golden age. They sort of succeed, but instead of the child being female, the MC is born a male.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You might want to check out some works that fall into the subgenre of Biopunk.

    Recommendations:

    The Windup Girl - great, recent book by Paulo Bacigalupi

    Clade, by Mark Budz. An interesting book where people have been bioengineered at the molecular level for socioeconomic reasons.

    Blood Music, written in the 1980s by Greg Bear. Bioengineered cells become self-aware and establish a civilization ... interesting.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    All the genetic engineering surrounding the space marines is pretty cool, but there's not really much of a scientific basis for any of it in the stories. I think the OP is looking for books with that scientific underpinning.
     
  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Thanks, those sound much closer to the kind of thing I'm after.
     
  10. Islander
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    David Brin's Uplift series deals with systematic genetic engineering of species to make them more intelligent - "Uplifting". He mentions some social implications, like enforced eugenics, but halfway through the third book, the consequences of them are virtually unexplored, and there's no debate on what it actually means to make a species more evolved - it's treated as a single, unambiguous goal. If you like the theme, I think you have the chance to make it a lot more realistic.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, those are great books.
     
  12. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    This one is an older setting, but it's good nonetheless. The Island of Doctor Moreau is a book about a doctor who takes animals and makes them more human, but he doesn't believe in using anesthetics. It also has underlying themes of stereotyping and morals and such. You could put some interesting twists into that a modern version of that book for sure!
     
  13. Boring Editor
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    I second The Windup Girl. It's a great book.

    Realistic science fiction is my favourite genre. It's not all faster-than-light travel and ray guns.
     
  14. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sure you're on top of the current thinking about genes - and the scope of their powers.
    I would re-read Brave New World, to get a feel for a manipulated world (and to remind yourself of the the potency of the environment).
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, if it isn't realistic, then it isn't very good "science fiction," and may not be science fiction at all.
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And to reach a little further back, Frank Herbert's Destination Void series also takes a whack at the idea.
     
  17. kaylynwrong
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    If you are interested in YA books at all, Unwind by Neil Shusterman is fantastic.
     

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