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Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts Hardcover – March 12, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0374158590 ISBN-10: 0374158592 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374158592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374158590
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. Welcome to the weird world of animal biotechnology presented by journalist Anthes. Genetic alteration has allowed us to change animals in ways never before possible. The book is a quick, often surprising review of current advances, giving accessible treatment to a weighty subject and employing clear descriptions of complex science. 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. These animals are not just in labs. Glowing fish and steerable cockroaches are being sold, and a cloned cat has been accepted into a home after her research days were finished. Cyborg beetles and much more are a reality today, and their existence prompts us to wonder where our responsibility lies when pursuing our ever-growing power to play with the animal kingdom. --Bridget Thoreson

Review

“Witty and well-researched . . . Despite her scientific expertise, Ms. Anthes can’t resist playful perkiness herself.”
The New York Times

“[Frankenstein’s Cat is] far more than just a fascinating read about animal manipulation. As it touches the third rail of ‘manipulating Nature,’ which seems to irritate non-religious liberals as much as evangelicals, its implications go far beyond controversies associated with animal biotechnology to the ethics of “positive eugenics” in humans. [Anthes] colorfully explores all the fascinating and in some cases gruesome ways humans are reshaping the animal kingdom . . . she thoughtfully pleas for reasoned contemplation and discussion rather than knee jerk reactions.”
Forbes

“In a fascinating romp through laboratories, barns, and pet stores, science journo Emily Anthes interviews the innovators pushing biological limits, and offers elegant explanations of neuroscience and genetics.”
—Ryan Jacobs, Mother Jones

“Genetically engineered glow-in-the-dark fish for your fish tank. Cyborg beetles concocted by the Defense Department. Five hundred different strains of transgenic mice caged in a Chinese laboratory. Science journalist Emily Anthes has a knack for ferreting out such eyebrow-raising specimens, and she makes the details of her complex subject matter highly readable in Frankenstein’s Cat.”
The Washington Post

“Anthes, a gifted science writer who lives with her cavapoo Milo, takes us on a journey from “petri dish to pet store” and beyond . . . this is a serious book with a light touch.”
Bloomberg

“A witty exploration of the many ways in which humans are reshaping animal bodies in the twenty-first century . . . an entertaining, intelligent book that casts new light on the shady gulf between man and beast.”
Nature

“Fascinating, sharp and a bit scary.”
New Scientist

“A profoundly hopeful and often funny book about how the dividing line between human, animal and machine isn’t as clear as you might think . . . This is a must for animal lovers, as well as anyone curious about the future of biology.”
—io9.com

“Fascinating . . . A heartwarming chapter is devoted to the dolphin Winter, whose injured tail was replaced with a prosthetic one . . . with legislation regulating the animal biotech industry highly inconsistent . . .  Anthes eloquently explores the arguments framing the debate.”
Nautilus

“Charming . . . the science is accessible and so, mercifully, is the ethics… a breezy introduction to a complex and controversial issue.” Four stars.
BBC Focus

“Witty and intelligent . . . If Anthes had simply opted to flit from one biotech vignette to the next, Frankenstein’s Cat would be impressive enough. But she gives us much, much more, straying at every turn to reflect on historical precedents to these brave new beasts and to ponder the troublesome philosophical and ethical questions they raise.”
BBC Wildlife

“[Anthes] has a gift for blending reputable science with humorous anecdotes in a sparkling writing style that makes reading this book a real delight . . . The book bubbles with provocative bioscience and fascinating examples of important advances that are presented in a witty and absorbing fashion. You will be introduced to a wide range of emerging technology that has compelling applications to future health care . . . It is a gem of a book . . . pick it up and enjoy a peek into this brave new world of biotechnology!”
Oncology Times

“A lively, engaging, and intensely researched overview of where animal science has gone in recent decades and where it might go. All who value both human and animal welfare may think it worth their while to give it a read.”
The Futurist

“The great merit of Frankenstein’s Cat is its balance. It could have been a gee-whiz paean to the genius of genetic engineers. It could have been a soulless expose of the bizarre features of its subject. It could have been a cry of fright at the possibilities unleashed by scientists in this field. Anthes, often humorous but never insensitive, portrays their products neither as masterpieces nor as monsters. What she does say, in many different ways, is that we must understand the consequences of genetic engineering and be prepared for them practically, philosophically and ethically—not after the startling and perhaps irreversible fact, but in advance.”
The Valley Advocate (Massachusetts)

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

“The book is a quick, often surprising review of current advances, giving accessible treatment to a weighty subject and employing clear descriptions of complex science. 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

“Animals are fascinating if reluctant soldiers in the biotech revolution, writes journalist Anthes in this witty and thought-provoking book.”
Publishers Weekly

“With wit, high intelligence, and a lively writing style, 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, bestselling author of Einstein’s Dreams

Frankenstein’s Cat is smart, lucid, and full of surprises. There was hardly a page that didn’t contain something new or unexpected.”
—Anne Fadiman, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

“Smart, funny and deep: Frankenstein’s Cat is a report from the frontiers of the scientific campaign to re-engineer animals to fulfill 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.”
—Thomas Levenson, Professor of Science Writing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of Newton and the Counterfeiter

“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 . . . Always enjoyable, a page-turner of a popular science book with a surprise around every corner.”
—Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science and The Universe Inside You


More About the Author

Emily Anthes is a science journalist and author. Her work has appeared in Wired, Scientific American Mind, Psychology Today, SEED, Discover, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Slate, New York, Miller-McCune, Good, Foreign Policy, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere. Her new book, Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts, will be published in March 2013 by Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She is also the author of the Instant Egghead Guide: The Mind (St. Martin's Press, 2009).

Emily blogs at Wonderland, which is part of the blog network of the Public Library of Science. Her blog post, "When a deaf man has Tourette's," was selected for inclusion in The Open Laboratory 2010: The Best of Science Writing on the Web.

She has a master's degree in science writing from MIT and a bachelor's degree in the history of science and medicine from Yale, where she also studied creative writing.

Emily lives in Brooklyn, New York with her dog, Milo.

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Emily's website: http://www.emilyanthes.com/
Emily's blog: http://blogs.plos.org/wonderland/

Follow Emily on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmilyAnthesAuthor
Follow Emily on Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilyanthes
Follow Emily on GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1367621.Emily_Anthes

Customer Reviews

This was a very interesting and entertaining book.
Tammy J
It wasn't just the horror I felt as a dog lover, it was my astonishment and laughter at the "third" ring outside the beagles-- the physicist's offices!!
Let's Compare Options Preptorial
This book is a great, user-friendly way to learn about one of the most exciting, important issues facing us.
iorek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert Summers on March 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book's title tells us to expect a survey of the brave new world of animal genetic engineering, and it does a marvelous job of doing that. Emily Anthes covers the waterfront of modern animal genetic engineering. Highlights are tales of glowing fish engineered for the pet store trade, "pharmacy" animals such as goats that can produce medicinal milk for humans, new prosthetic limbs for pets, farm animals, and even dolphins, the cloning of pets, farm animals, and endangered species, and robo-beasts such as rat-bots, beetle drones, and other computer-controlled animals.

The author is an excellent writer. Few books about scientific subjects can be considered page-turners, but this one is. Her own personal experiences and wit add delightful spice to the writing. Perhaps most important, however, is the author's thought-provoking exploration of the ethical dilemmas and complexities involved in animal genetic engineering. This is a book you will be thinking about long after you have finished reading it.

5 Stars for a wonderfully informative and thought-provoking book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Moskowitz TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
As a scientist, I was fascinated by all the work that is going into the manipulation of animal species. The author gives us an overview of work on fluorescent fish, cloned cats and dogs. transgenic goats, cyber-dolphins, and the recreation of woolly mammoths.

I am especially intrigued by the possibility of bringing back the mammoths. Every time that I drive west out of Denver, I look for the buffalo herd, really bison, that can sometimes be seen near the highway. (Please see Customer Image for the hardcover edition.) This species was nearly wiped out, but has been saved. Could we do the same for the mammoths by cloning their DNA? Of course, they are really large animals, perhaps too big for zoos. Where would we put them? Give them North Dakota or even Canada? How could they be contained?. Maybe we could give them their own island. Manhattan could then be put to good use.

Overall, the book's overview of genetic research was fascinating. I recommend it as an excellent starting point for exploring this area.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Ball on April 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book came today and I just can't put it down. It's past 2am already. I'll probably finish it on the second read tomorrow. This is a book everyone needs to read to understand synthetic biology. It's amazing, scary, shocking, exciting. Synthetic Biology, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology are favorite topics of mine to read. Emily writes in a style that is very easy to understand even for a layman on this subject. She clarifies misunderstandings about genetically modified animals and also contrasts them to the hybridized animals which we have had for hundreds of years - especially dogs. She gets deep into the ethics and puts forward both sides of all the issues raised. The book starts out describing how they can easily grow a mouse with tusks with a slight genetic modification. This book seems like science fiction from 100 years into the future but it is real and now and today.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By janderbing on April 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have worked at biotech companies in research for over 10 years, and so am well familiar with genetically tweaked mice that are created to test out drugs and their efficacy. This book was helpful because it was well-researched and had other examples of "tweaking". However, I felt such inherent danger when I read about the creation of so many "brave new beasts". What happens when they - like the genetically engineered salmon - get loose in the wild? A situation just as bad as GMO corn pollen - unable to be contained, even if harmful. I wish that the author had shared more about what she really feels about the issues she raised. I liked this book - many examples of *cool* and *useful* modifications of creatures, and a good look at what is out there. I just couldn't shake my inner creepiness warning, because I think she glossed over the dangers of this technology.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Barrett on March 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're like me, you get inspired by the headlines: "Scottish Scientist Clones Sheep." "Engineers Create Radio-Controlled Insects." "New Plan to Re-Stock Great Plains With Long-Extinct Animals." You get excited, you get inspired, and then... you wait. Years pass. Emily Anthes' book Frankenstein's Cat explains the need for patience. In clear, occasionally hilarious prose, Anthes relays the state-of-the-art at the intersection of animals and science: bionic bugs, cloned pets, biological mapping networks. It's a wonderful reminder of our weird and breath-taking world, the difficulty of the scientific work that aims to illuminate it, and the dedication of the men and women conducting that work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Schumann on July 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just as one would expect from a Scientific American Book, this is a very good general survey. It covers the trends in cloning and other aspects of biotechnology. In doing so, it might disappoint those who are already a bit more informed, either by reading other books on the issues or by following the general science magazines. For those, who want a quick survey, though, this is a good choice.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By iorek on March 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a great, user-friendly way to learn about one of the most exciting, important issues facing us. In a series of well chosen stories, it gives us insight into the full cross section of possible effects from the use of biotechnology on animals (and by implication, us).

Choose your medicine: some of the stories are sweet (a prosthetic tail for a dolphin) or silly (engineering fish that glow) and some are frightening and ominous (mice that grow tusks and behave in compulsively bizarre ways, or insects impaled with wires to convert them into spy drones) but all of them are instructive. This book makes clear that there is no going back, and that some of the fastest changes are taking place in countries with the worst controls. As you read this well written book, you'll find yourself reaching to fasten your seat belt.
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