The far side of science

Bio-Punk: Stories from the Far Side of Research, edited by Ra Page, Comma Press, RRP£9.99, 256 pages

Comma Press commissioned fiction writers to explore the ethical implications of the latest bio-medical research. Dilys Rose’s wry “EFEMERI” considers the use of MRI-scans in lie-detector tests; Simon Van Booy’s blackly humorous “Flesh and Blood” conjures a world in which “personal genomics” has rendered human life a deterministic nightmare.

The anthology’s best entries draw imaginatively on scientific vocabulary. The narrator of Annie Kirby’s “Xenopus Rose-Tinted” is a cloned frog who describes poetically the circumstances of his “birth” in a laboratory: “My father is alone, squinting into his fluorescence microscope, patiently observing the aurora borealis of oxidisation in my regenerating tail.”

Each story is appended with an essay in which an expert responds, often with a sort of deadpan bemusement (“it should be noted that Xenopus frogs are not known for their ability to dream ... ”). The juxtaposition makes for fascinating reading.

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