#COFFINHOP Guest Blog with Barbara Custer

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid


Can you splice human DNA with that of a dog, cat, or other species? Well, the Kryszka aliens of Steel Rose and my WIP, Blood Moon Rising, believe not only that it’s acceptable but that it can and should be done. They fuse DNA as routinely as a cardiothoracic specialist might do open heart surgery. Done right, both procedures work miracles. Botch the job, and you’ve got disasters – a monster with the former and a dead patient with the latter.

For a human with incurable disease, Kryszka doctors (called healers by their own breed) might splice their DNA with the patient to save him. Their treatments might cure the illness among their own kind, but have no effect on humans. After the gene fusion, the human takes on alien characteristics, starting with his cells and DNA, which then become receptive to the foreign medicines. What’s more, the aliens are resistant to most diseases that beset humans. Sometimes, fusing the DNA will enable the human to fight off the disease without medicine. Even in best case scenarios, though, no one can predict the outcome. Gene fusion can result in dangerous and powerful mutants, and yes, this happens in Steel Rose/Blood Moon Rising. Think Splice or The Fly, and you’ll know to be afraid. Be very afraid.

Basically, gene splicing is cutting a gene from one organism and pasting it into the DNA of another so that a characteristic can be transferred from one plant or animal to another. Our scientists do it now, but mostly with plants. For example, bacteria can make insulin if the insulin gene is cut from a human chromosome and pasted into a bacterium. Forty-five percent of corn and 85 percent of soybeans are genetically engineered.

British researchers were given approval to conduct human-animal hybrid research in 2008, a decision that researchers proclaimed would lead to a possible cure for Parkinson’s disease. Before, only human cells were allowed to be injected into human eggs, but the researchers argued that animal eggs are much more available. After they got their permission, researchers went to work using cow eggs. The nucleus of the cow egg was removed, and replaced with the nucleus of a human cell such as a skin cell. When the egg started to develop and multiply, it would become an early-stage cloned embryo called a blastocyst. Scientists could then extract the stem cells from this blastocyst to use in disease treatments. We won’t see any ape-humans or other hybrid beings, as in Splice or The Fly, as most people consider such fusions unethical.

However there’s no telling what will happen when and if people from other worlds migrate here. Especially if they’ve got an agenda. And that’s the stuff good fiction is all about.

One randomly drawn commenter will receive a signed copy of Steel Rose and a $10 GC for Starbucks.

steel rose

Or buy a copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Steel-Rose-Barbara-Custer-ebook/dp/B00BA4JMJK




17 thoughts on “#COFFINHOP Guest Blog with Barbara Custer

  1. As a scientist, I know there is no limit to what science can accomplish… I know ethics will attempt to keep us in check… But not everyone worries about the ethical and the proper and that leaves lots of room for horror stories to unfold.

  2. Hey, Erik. Very interesting stuff…in fiction, of course. Not sure I like people playing God. No, I take that back. I’m very sure I don’t like people playing God. However, it sure does inspire the writer in us to run with the possibilities. *laughs*


  3. Glad I found you through Coffin Hop. This subject reminds me of the great story The Island of Dr. Moreau. Interesting and creepy – love it!
    Who knows what the future holds for humans? Most fiction is only a skip away from reality.

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