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Unnatural: The Heretical Idea of Making People Hardcover – 3 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley Head (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847921523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847921529
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 794,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Ball is a freelance science writer. He worked at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences (for which his brief extended from biochemistry to quantum physics and materials science) and then as a Consultant Editor. His writings on science for the popular press have covered topical issues ranging from cosmology to the future of molecular biology.

Product Description


"A brave, sane and intellectually nimble account of a topic which only gets more ambiguous with each scientific advance. Unnatural is fascinating and engaging, and a polemic only for cool heads and open hearts when dealing with issues of such serious and profound complexity" (Stuart Kelly Scotland on Sunday)

"This is a fascinating book" (Jonathan Rée Evening Standard)

"Unnatural is a beautifully-written, deeply-intelligent book that will force every reader to rethink at least some of their preconceptions" (Jim Endersby Sunday Telegraph)

"Ball's thoughtful book is a reminder that as we try and deal with how to enable and assist people into being, we need to understand and then conquer our fears surrounding the very idea of making people" (Manjit Kumar Guardian)

"Meticulous, witty and sometimes provocative" (Patrick Skene Catling Sunday Times)

Book Description

A fascinating exploration of the cultural history of 'anthropoesis' - the creation of artificial people - what it tells us about our views on life, humanity, creativity and technology, and the soul.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Unnatural" is a stunningly intelligent book. Philip Ball is masterful in his exploration on society's (pre)conceptions of IVF and associated reproductive technology. The tabloid (and worryingly, occasionally broadsheet) announcement of new advances in reproductive technology as either "Brave New Baby" or "Franken(insert pun here)" is put under the microscope by highlighting that these prejudices are built essentially from cultural relics. From Prometheus and Daedalus, to Faust and Frankenstein's Monster, Ball deftly distils the underlying unease which accompanies these tales, and how they shape the narrative into which new discoveries are shoehorned.

Later focusing on IVF whilst looking forward to the possibility to cloning, Ball manages to put the rhetoric to one side and look objectivity at the merits and fears associated with these developing technologies. Catholic doctrine is also examined here - although without the arrogance or bile associated with other scientific writers. As a PhD student of cell biology and biochemistry, I can also applaud Ball's clear and precise explanations regarding the scientific aspects of IVF and cloning.

A truly necessary book - I'd advise anyone to read it before they consider opening their mouth and airing an opinion on reproductive technology.
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