Sharon Lynn Fisher dishes on the Sci-Fi Fantasy of BioPunk

April 30, 2014 Author Feature, Giveaway, Guest Post, Science Fiction 19

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.

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Read my review of THE OPHELIA PROPHECY

I also read and reviewed a stand alone book by her a few years ago called GHOST PLANET


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.”WikicommonsEinsteinByOren Jack Turner

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.

OrphanBlackPosterFor 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.FrankensteinsCat

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.

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Enter the giveaway below: 3 winners will each receive 1 paperback copy of THE OPHELIA PROPHECY. You must be a US or CA resident to enter. Read my review of the book.

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Sharon Lynn Fisher Author PhotoA 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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*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! No worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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19 Responses to “Sharon Lynn Fisher dishes on the Sci-Fi Fantasy of BioPunk”

  1. Melliane

    Thanks for the post. I was really curious about this book but sci-fi is a bit tricky for me si I usually tend to stay away. But I think I’ll try this one, it was a really interesting post to discover because it shows how complex the genre is too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Heidi

    This looks great. I love this sci-fi bio books they are always so fascinating to me and it is amazing the possibilities and that some have actually come to pass. I would totally love to win a copy. BTW… if your comment doesn’t show up, no worries. I go through daily and check the spam folder and post them so I get them no matter what 🙂
    Heidi recently posted…Review:Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike MullinMy Profile

  3. sherry butcher

    Thanks for the great reviews and sharing everything. Love SiFi and want to read more.

  4. Sharon

    Thanks so much to Tabitha for having me here, and for the wonderful review! And thanks to all of you for dropping by to read my guest post. I love seeing readers getting as excited about the possibilities of biopunk (and all the other punks!) as I do. Contrary to popular stereotypes, geeks love company! 🙂