Craving some science fiction with a romantic edge? Then you need to check out THE OPHELIA PROPHECY. Human DNA has been tampered with, splicing it with animals and insects and now new humanoid races are dominant. A young woman is captured and you can be sure you are in for lots of action and sexual tension.
The Sci-Fi Fantasy of BioPunk
Sci-fi and fantasy have always been bedfellows. Even what we think of as Golden Age sci-fi quite frequently blended the two. The obvious reason for this is that both are speculative genres, and writers/readers who like one often like both. But I think there’s more to it than that. Scientists are dreamers. The most gifted ones are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers, like Einstein, who said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
When scientists lock into a certain way of thinking — conform too closely to conventional scientific belief, almost as if it were a religion — discovery and innovation stagnate. Even Einstein was limited by his unwillingness to believe some of the things his own math was telling him — things we now know to be true, like the expanding universe and quantum entanglement (which he called “spooky action at a distance”).
I thought a lot about all this when I created the Manti — a race of human/praying mantis transgenic organisms — for my novel THE OPHELIA PROPHECY. The Manti were the invention of biohackers. Wikipedia describes biohacking as “the practice of engaging in biology with hacker ethics.” Just like computer hackers play with computer code in unconventional ways, biohackers play with biological “code” — human, animal, and plant DNA.
In THE OPHELIA PROPHECY, the Manti are the result of military contracts that sought to create an enhanced fighting force. But the DIY scientists in OPHELIA, neither monitored nor regulated, were not about to place such limits on themselves. One in particular had an interest in mythological beings.
Here’s a description of one of the Manti, the hero’s sister (Iris), given from the point of view of the story’s heroine (Asha):
[Asha] suddenly understood the resurrection of archaic terminology like “changeling” and “fae.” For those who didn’t know, didn’t understand, or chose not to believe what these beings really were — next-generation byproducts of unsanctioned but well-funded biohacker projects — it probably seemed the only plausible explanation.
The inhabitants of Sanctuary lived a cloistered life. As an archivist, Asha had seen hundreds of images, but images were easily enhanced. Exaggerated.
But Iris was . . . devastatingly real.
Her exquisite face — small and pointed, dominated by large, pearlescent green eyes — was framed by a rigid, shield-shaped hood as brightly green as summer grass. The hood merged with her shoulders, and what was below, Asha had thought at first to be part of her costume — a set of elongated wings, the same color and texture as the hood. They lifted and settled, adjusting slightly with every movement she made.
As Iris strode toward Paxton, Asha noticed the Manti woman’s arms — slender and tapered like any woman’s — except for the row of spikes running from elbow to pinky finger.
Humanity referred to its enemy generically as Manti, though genetic experimentation had involved DNA from a variety of species. But Iris was mantis. Darkly alien—darkly other—with a beauty born of nightmares.
For a recent example of biopunk in television, check out BBC America’s ORPHAN BLACK series. It’s not just about clones. The series features a movement called Neolutionism, with followers who “hack” themselves for aesthetic reasons and believe in “self-guided evolution.” Self-guided evolution can encompass cybernetic implants as well as genetic modification.
Fantastical as all this sounds, it is grounded in real science. Did you know there is a variety of brightly colored aquarium fish that is the result of blending sea coral or jellyfish DNA with fish DNA? (To learn more about GloFish, and less trivial applications of biotech, check out FRANKENSTEIN’S CAT, by Emily Anthes.)
Sci-fi writers become gleeful over stuff like this. Biopunk can take you pretty much anywhere your geeky little writer’s (or reader’s) heart desires. Not only does biopunk offer a bottomless well of inspiration, the social and cultural implications of engineering beings — in a sense, of playing God — make terrific storytelling. Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, nearly two-hundred years old, still captivates readers and moviegoers today.a Rafflecopter giveaway
A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, SHARON LYNN FISHER lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014).
The Ophelia Prophecy
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