We have an opportunity now—in the beginning of the 21st Century—to manipulate and control DNA and gene expression to create animal-animal and animal-human mashups. We have the ability to track and monitor animals, clone them, and control their minds.
Glowing fish: check. Robotic cockroaches: check. Remote-control bees: check. Pharmaceutical goats: check. Clones: check. Spider silk producing goat milk: check. Mice with male-pattern baldness: check. Pigs that grow human organs: check.
As our test subjects, animals are at the forefront of biotechnology and not always in the best way. Furthermore it’s easy to envision apocalyptic scenarios in which genetically altered animals take over. Anthes argues the future of biotechnology can strengthen animals and humans.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
A glowing cat, DNA manipulation, cloning. These are the things of legend. Mentioned in the book are the biotechnology milestones that have, essentially, defined a generation. The rise, then fall of Genetic Savings & Clone and the successful cloning of Dolly come to mind.
Frankenstein’s Cat shows us how biotechnology has been and can be used to manipulate animals; from robo-rats to dolphins with prosthetics.
Rating (4 stars)
This book is squarely popular science. Anthes—a science journalist—is clearly a professional at taking complicated biotechnology topics and distilling them into something easily read.
While I appreciated the ease and fluidity at which the book progressed, I would have preferred a bit more science and a bit less editorial and ethical pondering.
If biotechnology isn’t your thing, this is a great pop-sci catch-up on where we’re at today. If you’re heavy into biotechnology, there’s a robust “notes” section with lots of citations.
Read this book:
If you’re intrigued by the idea of remote-control cockroaches.
Don't Read this book:
You have already amassed an army of remote control cockroaches, beetles, and bees ready to take over the world as soon as you perfect your evil scientist laugh.
Once you're done, do this:
Create your own robotic cockroach.