Subject Guides » Books » Reading Lists » Biotechnology

This category is a sort of twin to cyberpunk, also starting in the 1980s and with many of the same issues and techniques. These stories, however, explore the massive social & historical changes that may be on the horizon due to the rapid advance of biotechnology. The books range from near-future scenarios to far-future tales of living, bio-engineered space habitats.

  • Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
    Enter Gibson's unique world—lyric and mechanical, erotic and violent, sobering and exciting—where multinational corporations and high tech outlaws vie for power, traveling into the computer-generated universe known as cyberspace.
  • Parasite by Mira Grant
    A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation.
  • Blood Music by Greg Bear
    Intelligent "biochip" organisms are released into human bodies, triggering a new step in human evolution. Bear tends to write "hard" SF, very well.

  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
    Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
  • Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
    This arc follows the high-tech adventures of Tally Youngblood. As an ugly, then a pretty, and finally a special, Tally works to take down a society created to function with perfect-looking people who never have a chance to think for themselves.
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    Once again, the Earth is under attack. Alien "buggers" are poised for a final assault. The survival of the human species depends on a military genius who can defeat the buggers. But who?
  • Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan (Starter)
    Set in a near-future world where nanotechnology has run amok, this could also be classified as a post-Apocalyptic story. The first in her "Nanotech Quartet", this story depicts humans surviving in a strange mix of supertechnology and primitive conditions. The depiction of advanced nanotechnology is especially vivid.

  • Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
    What would happen if a privileged few were genetically modified to be born, not only smarter, but needing no sleep -- giving them much more time for accomplishment than ordinary humans? The modified superior (or mutant superior) is an old theme in SF, but Kress does a great job of it.

  • The Helix and the Sword by John McLoughlin
    This lyrically written novel takes place in a far future where the human race inhabits huge, genetically engineered, living "spaceships" which are themselves intelligent; one of the major characters is the space habitat Catuvel. Biotechnology is supreme in this society, and the surface of Earth is taboo.

  • Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata
    The human race is dealing both with Artificial Intelligence computers, and with bioengineered neuron cells (LoVs) which have acquired an independent intelligence. Are the LoVs a threat, or something to be embraced?

  • Architects of EMortality by Brian Stableford
    Reproduction is completely artificial, while biotechnologists and nanotechnologists compete to see who can come up with immortality treatments first. This book, part of a larger series, explores the effects of these changes on individual psychology and human society.

  • Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
    Swanwick creates a fascinating and complex world with a mix of high techology, literary allusions, vivid characters, and sometimes mysterious social structures. Despite the presence of high techology, the settings are gritty and sometimes folktale-like, and the overall effect is magical.

Films to watch:

  • Jurassic Park (2000)
    Dinosaurs recreated from fossil DNA are the heavies (literally) in this movie. The plot is pretty unbelievable, but the special effects are great!

  • 12 Monkeys (1995)
    Humanity barely survived a near-future pandemic; they send someone back to our time to prevent the release of the virus by a terrorist group. Unfortunately, he's hospitalized by doctors who assume he's insane. This time- and mind-bending movie is riveting and dark.


Category: Reading Lists, Science Fiction

Page last changed: October 15, 2013, at 02:28 PM EST.