GREAT MAMBO CHICKEN AND THE TRANSHUMAN CONDITION: Science Slightly Over the Edge by Ed. Regis

GREAT MAMBO CHICKEN AND THE TRANSHUMAN CONDITION: Science Slightly Over the Edge

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Molecule-sized robots, frozen body parts, and bionic hens populate this goggle-eyed tour of latter-day scientific efforts aimed, for the most part, at human omniscience. Regis is a frequent Omni contributor and the author of Who Got Einstein's Office? (1987). Dora Kent longed to live forever, but she never could have imagined her actual post-death fate: her son and other members of California's Alcor Life Extension Foundation decapitated her immediately after her death (as per her instructions), had her head frozen or ""suspended"" so that it could be restored to life in the not-so-distant future, and were subsequently accused of murder when it turned out that Dora had not been officially pronounced dead. Kent's dilemma is just one of the fixes Regis' futuristic scientists get themselves into, and the author practically hoots with glee as he leaps from one mad scientist's quest (say, achieving immorality by downloading one's Consciousness into a computer and making backup copies) to the next (raising supermuscular hens in intensive gravity). Outlining the trajectory of Gerard K. O'Neill's space colonization efforts from a single publication in Physics Today to a nationwide society committed to expanding humanity's presence in space, Regis goes on to describe Eric Drexler's creation of nanotechnology (the altering of matter one atom at a time via DNA-sized assemblers); an Artificial Life 4-H competition; Dave Criswell's scheme for taking the sun apart; and Keith Henson's plans for a Far Edge Party, ""an enormous gathering of downloaded multiple selves"" on the other side of the Milky Way at which ""a whole galaxy"" may be converted into beer cans. Much of the reportage is old news--and a number of the scientists profiled have written more inspiringly themselves--but, still, a cheery introduction for a new generation of thrill-seekers.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1990
Publisher: Addison-Wesley