Genetic Engineering Ethics In Science Fiction
Q: I am a final year university student who is currently writing an ethics essay. I have been trying to put forward the view that some of the ethical problems associated with new technology have already been explored in science fiction. I would like help in substantiating this view. My essay is on the topic of human genetic engineering and cloning. While I am familiar with some of the work on this topic I was hoping for some help in tracking down some short stories or novels which deal with either the ethical problems or the social implications of these topics. At the moment my list includes Hyperion Quartet by Dan Simmons Glory Season by David Brin Some parts of the Uplift books by David Brin As you can see this is rather short and mostly deals with the social consequences rather than the ethics. Does anyone have any suggestions? I would appreciate any recommendations (along with magazine titles and editions for short stories if possible) I am also interested in peoples opinions on the idea that science fiction is the ideal medium for exploring tomorrows ethical dilemmas.
A: -Greg Egan, definitely. Egan mostly seems to be interested in the boundary between ontology and the more speculative aspects of physics. I find that a bit of a shame, because I don't think it's his real strength. Anyone can wave their hands about the Copenhagen Interpretation, but nobody is better than Egan at writing about the ethical and social implications of advanced biotechnology. I'd start with _Distress_. The first chapter is stunning, but you should pay close attention to the whole book. Don't miss the voluntary autists, the asexes, the notion of targeted biowarfare, and the ethical implications of the way that bioengineering interacts with intellectual property law. -Most of the Lois McMaster Bujold books have some facet of genegineering ethics conundrums. I especially recommend Memory and the last one "A Civil Campaign" in which a conniving aristocrat creates 180 daughters of himself and ova that have been deposited in the local gene bank. Memory deals with a set of clones and how they become enmeshed in a web of mistaken identity and amnesia. Another one is "Falling Free" in which a corporation creates a new "race" of mankind that has four arms and no legs for work in freefall.
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