May. 14th, 2010

mrcreek: Pikaia, a distant relative (pic#265175)
[personal profile] mrcreek
I am looking for good examples of bioinformatics in fiction. Biotechnology and genetics are major themes in stories ranging from science fiction to crime thrillers. Most of the time, though, either the focus is on cloning or modifying DNA rather than interpreting it, or else the part where DNA is compared to a database is mentioned in a throwaway sentence but there is no discussion of how it was analyzed. Even though bioinformatics is complicated, there is no reason why parts of it couldn't be explained to a lay audience. I have easily followed plenty of plots, from Sherlock Holmes to Contact to the Da Vinci Code, which revolve around characters figuring things using fields of study in which I had very little prior knowledge.

Here are a few examples I can think of so far (I haven't read any of these in a while, so my summaries might be slightly off):

Darwin's Radio by Bear. Studies of endogenous viruses in the modern human genome and in Neandertal DNA play a pivotal role in the plot.

Relic by Preston and Child. In at least one scene, a sassy computer program talks a researcher through the process of taxonomically identifying the source(s) of a DNA sample.

Jurassic Park by Crichton. Although the main event is of course cloning and minor genetic modification, the book does a fairly good job explaining how the scientists made sense of dinosaur DNA.

Please help me think of more. Movies and TV shows are okay, too, although it's usually possible to fit more scientific details into novels or short stories. I'm definitely interested in amateur fiction, also; give me the links.


bioinformatics: A montage of biotech imagery, such as DNA helices and gel electrophoresis. (Default)

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