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Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts
 
 

Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts [Kindle Edition]

Emily Anthes
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Review

“Emily Anthes gets the balance just right... There are brilliant stories of the entrepreneurs who want to bring glowing fish and remote controlled cockroaches to market, contrasted with the potentially lifesaving work of pharmed animals modified to produce medicine in their milk. We got GM crops horribly wrong - and Anthes shows us the approach we should take to avoid making the same mistakes with modified animals. Always enjoyable, a page turner of a popular science book with a surprise awaiting around every corner.” - Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science and The Universe Inside You

“Emily Anthes' creatures are far stranger (and, at times, scarier) than Frankenstein's monster. She compellingly balances the pluses and minuses of science's increasing ability to alter the animals we share the planet with. A fascinating read.” - Alex Boese, author of Elephants on Acid and Electrified Sheep

“Frankenstein's Cat is a report from the frontiers of the scientific campaign to re-engineer animals to fulfil human desires. At the same time Anthes, whose love of animals shines through on every page, takes her readers on a rich and challenging quest of self-discovery: what rights do the animal objects of our creativity possess, and what obligations to them and to ourselves must we accept as we reshape (again!) the living world? A great read… Funny and deep.”

--Thomas Levenson, author of Newton and the Counterfeiter

“With wit, high intelligence, and a lively writing style, Emily Anthes portrays the new world of biotechnology - in which we control the bodies and brains of other animals - and the moral and philosophical issues so raised. ” - Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams

“Frankenstein's Cat is smart, lucid, and full of surprises. There is hardly a page that doesn't contain something new or unexpected.” - Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

“Animals are fascinating if reluctant soldiers in the biotech revolution, writes [Emily] Anthes... in witty and thought-provoking book.”

--Publishers Weekly

“An elegant tour of the wild and fraught sideshow of animal biotechnology... Learned, entertaining and illuminating.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Medicine-producing goats, a glowing beagle, and remote-controlled rats seem like science fiction, but not only are they scientifically possible, they're already here... Anthes not only explores what is being done but also asks why and if it should be done. Along the way, the book reveals much about humans and our connections to animals and the world we all inhabit.”

--Booklist

 ‘Charming… the science is accessible and so, mercifully, is the ethics… a breezy introduction to a complex and controversial issue.’  4 stars -BBC Focus

‘Anthes gets the balance just right… recommended.’  Four stars- Popular Science

Product Description

From the petri dish to the pet shop, meet the high-tech menagerie of the near future, as humans reinvent the animal kingdom



 



Fluorescent fish that glow near pollution. Dolphins with prosthetic fins. Robot-armoured beetles that military handlers can send on spy missions. Beloved pet pigs resurrected from DNA. Scientists have already begun to create these high-tech hybrids to serve human whims and needs. What if a cow could be engineered to no longer feel pain – should we design a herd that would assuage our guilt over eating meat?



Acclaimed science writer Emily Anthes travels round the globe to meet the fauna of the future, from the Scottish birthplace of Dolly the sheep and other clones to a ‘pharm’ for cancer-fighting chickens. Frankenstein’s Cat is an eye-opening exploration of weird science – and how we are playing god in the animal world.


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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intelligent overview of this fascinating subject 15 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback
Anthes takes a tour through the weird world of modified animals, be it via genetic engineering, cloning or robotics. We are coming on in leaps and bounds in what we can achieve with biotechnology and combining the electronics revolution with animals. Along the way Anthes raises ethical questions about whether we have the right to modify nature or if animals should have their own rights. There is a comprehensive set of notes if you want to explore more of the details she mentions. Anthes also gets to meet some of the movers and shakers in the fields she is investigating and also some of the animals, taking great delight to meet cloned cats and buys her own fluorescent fish. The possibilities for biotechnology are growing all the time and although Anthes makes clear that it is but a tool that can be used for good or ill you can't help but feel a little trepidation about how it could be used for ill at the same time as being excited about how it could be used for good. The recent news of modified and highly armed dolphins escaping, with shades of We3 by Grant Morrison [...] shows one possible nightmare scenario and can we be comfortable with remote controlled insects in the hands of governments pursuing a surveillance society strategy? At the same time it's exciting to see that experiments on paralysed rats may offer hope for people who have been paralysed through accidents or that animal prosthetics are finding uses in human prostheses and that there are some new exciting therapies for some brain diseases coming. Although reality is more prosaic than say oryx and crake or the windup girl we should be thinking hard about these issues and Anthes book is a great place to start. You can see Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail that Anthes spends some time with, here [... Read more ›
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By Brian Clegg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In my experience, more scientists like dogs than cats (a dangerous assertion, I admit), which is why, perhaps, a cat ended up on the receiving end of the most famous thought experiment in history, Schrödinger’s Cat. Although the cat in Emily Anthes’ title obviously owes its existence to its hypothetical quantum cousin, though, this isn’t a book about thought experiments, but the real things. From fluorescent fish to cyborg animals, this is the story of what we are really doing – or planning to do – to modify nature.

For me, Anthes gets the balance just right in the book (though that ‘Frankenstein’ in the title is totally misleading in this respect). There are real moral issues to be considered in what we do to animals for our own benefit, but provided we take animal welfare into account, there is really no reason why we shouldn’t modify animals for our purposes. After all, we’ve been doing it for millennia through selective breeding – this is just a matter of doing it much more quickly and effectively.

Anthes covers all sorts of possibilities, and is at her best when she’s dealing with the everyday life side of the experience. So, for instance, her opening story of the fluorescent Glo-fish (despite headlines beloved of tabloid editors, they don’t glow in the dark, they re-emit light at a different frequency) is totally fascinating in part because of the legal challenges faced by the entrepreneurs looking to bring the fish to market (something that still isn’t legal, for instance, in the EU).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein's Cat 30 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anthes is a science writer and she is good at her trade, although she should avoid the occasional twee aside. In this book, she examines how scientists from a variety of disciplines seek to redesign and control animals. Their work ranges is from the frivolous (glow-in-dark fish) to the potentially life-saving drugs that can be secreted into goats' milk. Many of the interventions, such as prosthetics and tagging, are designed to help animals but there seem to be whole university departments inflicting pointless pain and indignity on them. Experimenting on primates and dogs is now seen as beyond the pale but rats and insects are fair game. The author doesn't shrink from looking at the ethical issues but does't offer her own opinions. Altogether, this is an interesting and informative book and unlike many writers of popular science, she actually went out and talked to the people she was writing about. She even went to visit a cloned cat which looked and behaved like any other moggie, so that experiment was presumably a success.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting 28 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well written. Full of interesting new information about the facts and possibilities of gene modification. Sometimes the future looks a little frightening, but we should at least know about it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and balanced 26 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very a well-researched and academically-referenced book, yet Anthes style is approachable, humorous and engaging so she does not 'lose' the reader in jargonistic prose.
She presents a thorough discussion and balanced debate on the pros and cons of the biotechnological advances made thus far, and hazards and educated summation of where developments may take us in the future.
Really interesting subject matter and not in the least bit 'dry' - recommended.
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