From Publishers Weekly
Everybody wants to live longer. Some are willing to go farther than others in pursuit of this dream, and in Rapture, Alexander tells the story of those who have gone the farthest. From the Extropians (who share "a Heinleinian philosophy of betterment through technology, and the creation of a posthuman future") and other fringe groups to researchers at the core of the scientific establishment, the book follows the various players and movements of bio-utopianism who all look forward to the moment of almost-religious rapture when humans can assert full control over their biology, in the process beating disease, aging and even death itself. Alexander, who covered biotechnology for Wired magazine, is at ease discussing the complexities of scientific research and is just as interested in the culture surrounding biotechnology as the biotechnology itself. In a roughly chronological narrative, he introduces the early pioneers of genetic research, building to the "biomania" that drove venture capitalists into biotech firms, such as Genentech, in the late 20th century, fleshing out the backstory behind recent controversies over genetic engineering, cloning and stem cell research. Though sympathetic to his subjects and their work, Alexander casts his tale in shades of gray rather than in black and white, and the result is a nuanced portrait of the intersection of idealism, capitalism, politics and science on the frontiers of biotechnology that will leave readers eager to see what the future might hold.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Written for the lay reader, this exploration of the fringe science of biotechnology is alternately spooky, silly, and scintillating. The author, who writes about biotech developments for Wired
magazine, takes us back to the roots of biotech, to people like H. G. Wells and Jules Verne--people who thought and wrote about creating a new and better world and a new and better human being to live in it. Alexander writes about the different contemporary groups involved in biotech: extropians, transhumans, cryonicists, extro-punkians, life extensionists. He talks about hormone injection, gene splicing, cryonics, regenerative medicine--all intended, in one way or another, to create the new, improved human species. He shows us the people behind the movements, people with names like FM 2030 and R. U. Sirius, but the book's central character is someone less flamboyantly weird: William Haseltine, the former Harvard professor who now runs one of the world's biggest biotech companies. He may be operating on the fringes of science, but, as the author makes clear, what's fringe today could be mainstream tomorrow. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved