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Frankenstein's Footsteps: Science, Genetics and Popular Culture

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a tale crafted two centuries ago to awaken thrilling horror, is a story that speaks to deep fears and desires that lie at the heart of our responses to biological science. Tracing the history of the development of biological science and how it has been received and understood by the public over two centuries, Turney's book argues that the Frank Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a tale crafted two centuries ago to awaken thrilling horror, is a story that speaks to deep fears and desires that lie at the heart of our responses to biological science. Tracing the history of the development of biological science and how it has been received and understood by the public over two centuries, Turney's book argues that the Frankenstein story governs much of today's debate about the onrushing new age of biotechnology.


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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a tale crafted two centuries ago to awaken thrilling horror, is a story that speaks to deep fears and desires that lie at the heart of our responses to biological science. Tracing the history of the development of biological science and how it has been received and understood by the public over two centuries, Turney's book argues that the Frank Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a tale crafted two centuries ago to awaken thrilling horror, is a story that speaks to deep fears and desires that lie at the heart of our responses to biological science. Tracing the history of the development of biological science and how it has been received and understood by the public over two centuries, Turney's book argues that the Frankenstein story governs much of today's debate about the onrushing new age of biotechnology.

33 review for Frankenstein's Footsteps: Science, Genetics and Popular Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Janet Eshenroder

    Very detailed account looking at conflicts and concerns about advances in biological science: the stories told by the scientific community and stories told by popular media. Concerns of the public (and some scientists) are not dismissed or downplayed by the author, though it is interesting to follow the predictions of disasters surrounding vivisection, transplants,and "test-tube babies." We live through the same intensity of arguments now with genetic engineering and cloning. Reading of past out Very detailed account looking at conflicts and concerns about advances in biological science: the stories told by the scientific community and stories told by popular media. Concerns of the public (and some scientists) are not dismissed or downplayed by the author, though it is interesting to follow the predictions of disasters surrounding vivisection, transplants,and "test-tube babies." We live through the same intensity of arguments now with genetic engineering and cloning. Reading of past outcries by the public over new scientific procedures (which we now accept as routine) does little to remove the fears that new scientific discoveries and techniques may perhaps go too far, be used in an unethical manner, or create "monstrous, unintended results" due to lack of foresight/oversight. What I appreciated at Turney's conclusion was a call for the scientific community and the public to have discussions not in terms of black and white outcomes (the "all-out scientific quest" or the "restriction on certain research"), but in terms of "maybe" outcomes which would address where we want to head as a society, how best to get there, and how to respond to public concerns in a responsible manner. The author draws no easy conclusions but offers much food for thought. Parts of this book left me impatient, such as the first chapter which centers around what he plans to cover in the rest of the book. Some parts are dry but great as historical reference, giving detail background into research papers, scientific conferences, books, movies, and popular press. Parts dealing with events in my lifetime I found fascinating. I remember studying genetics and remember the "issues of the day" concerning the direction of genetic manipulations. I remember the evolution of test-tube babies (I have friends who are parents because of the procedure). I certainly have my own reservations over gene modification in the agrifood industry, since I've developed numerous food allergies late in life. I appreciate this book may be too dry for most readers. Am not sure if I had to do it over again if I would put the effort into reading this one. It was recommended by my husband, a science editor, and so is valuable for future discussions. On the other hand, I'm not sure it will sway either of us in our own position. It will be valuable if it helps us appreciate the other side and look for a middle ground, which I assume was the author's intent.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joe Stack

    I thought this was an interesting analysis of the impact of culture on science, particularly biology, and the impact of science on culture. The author uses the line of stories starting with Frankenstein to The Island of Dr. Moreau to Brave New World to the stories of Michael Crichton and and assortment of lesser known novels and short stories as the chord which binds his book together. This also includes the films that have enforced the blurring of fact and fiction and contributed to the fears a I thought this was an interesting analysis of the impact of culture on science, particularly biology, and the impact of science on culture. The author uses the line of stories starting with Frankenstein to The Island of Dr. Moreau to Brave New World to the stories of Michael Crichton and and assortment of lesser known novels and short stories as the chord which binds his book together. This also includes the films that have enforced the blurring of fact and fiction and contributed to the fears and awe of science.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leli

  4. 4 out of 5

    Derek

  5. 4 out of 5

    Terese

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    Tomek

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    T

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anj

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Mosser

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cole Lu

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    Nat Mc

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    Will

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Jones

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hettie

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    Philomath

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pierre A Renaud

  17. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Carnes

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christina Browne

  19. 5 out of 5

    Byzantine

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lín

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  25. 4 out of 5

    Colin Thompson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Wong

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thomfrost

  28. 5 out of 5

    La Tammina

  29. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Oliwia

  31. 4 out of 5

    Stefano

  32. 4 out of 5

    K Gough

  33. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Hoobin

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