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How To Defeat Your Own Clone, And Other Tips For Surviving the Biotech Revolution
Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson
Bantam, 184 pages

How To Defeat Your Own Clone, And Other Tips For Surviving the Biotech Revolution
Kyle Kurpinski
Kyle Kurpinski received a Master's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in bioengineering in the joint graduate group between the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco. He is the lead product development engineer at Nanonerve, Inc.

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Terry D. Johnson
Terry D. Johnson received his Master's in Chemical Engineering from MIT and is currently a lecturer in the Bioengineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso

Chances are, when it comes to the future of biotechnology and cloning, bad science fiction and under-informed news articles have you preparing for one of two possible futures: a dystopian Earth brought to post-apocalyptic ruin thanks to "ultraintelligent überclones" run amok; or a disease-free paradise where "Every child rides to school on a genetically engineered unicorn. Money grows on trees. Pigs fly."

Hopefully, neither of this extremes is likely. You're also not likely to ever have to fight your own clone, but just in case, Mssrs. Kurpinski and Johnson are here to prepare you with an accessible and fun explanation of the basics of genetic engineering and biotech.

We humans have been genetically engineering our world since the earliest days of agriculture and animal domestication. Consider: one batch of wolf genes became hundreds of different breeds of dog. The same for cattle and horses, and any crop you'd care to imagine. Who knew how far we'd go -- especially the advances compressed into the last seventy years, from biologist Oswald Avery's 1944 discovery of DNA, to Craig Venter's publication of the first completely sequenced human genome in 2007?

While a genome is "even bigger and more confusing" than you might expect, but the basic idea is this: it's the blueprint for a living thing, a DNA map of everything you are physically, from toenails and height to hair color and shoe size. The human genome consists of about 25,000 unique genes scattered across 23 different chains of DNA, called chromosomes.

Your clone, if one existed, would have the exact same genome, the same DNA, as you. Identical twins, for example, are clones. In the lab, you can create a clone by replacing the DNA in an unfertilized egg cell with a copy of your DNA and implanting it in a convenient womb. But just because the clone starts out with the same blueprint as you doesn't mean you and your clone will be identical. For one thing, your clone will be much younger. It also won't act like you, and it probably won't look exactly like you because there's no way to completely duplicate your experiences and environment from fetus to adult.

But here's the bad news: your clone may well be healthier than you, and in better shape, simply because it's younger and hasn't spent the last decade or so watching TV, playing video games, and eating junk food. Fortunately, reading this book will help you prepare, with plenty of topical pop culture examples from sources like films and shows like The Simpsons and Futurama.

Whether you're hoping for a future with "chocolate-flavored broccoli," or a darker world of "viral warfare and biologically enhanced Richard Simmons clones," the authors have written a timely guide to a complicated subject that's as user-friendly as it is funny.

Copyright © 2010 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.

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