Friday, June 8, 2012

Distant Cousin predicts the future--EIGHT times!

A recent article in the New York Times announced that "For the first time, researchers have determined virtually the entire genome of a fetus using only a blood sample from the pregnant woman and a saliva specimen from the father."

“It’s an extraordinary piece of technology, really quite remarkable,” said Peter Benn, professor of genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut....What I see in this paper is a glance into the future.”

The technique, when perfected, will make it possible to detect thousands of genetic diseases before birth. The article goes on to discuss the state of current research and offers cautionary notes about what actions may or may not be taken if serious abnormalities are discovered.

The article concludes with the words of a professor of genome sciences at The University of Washington: “This is not science fiction anymore.”

Very well, then. If it isn't science fiction anymore, it was, not so long ago.

Here is a quote from Distant Cousin (published in 2005, seven years before the article in question), chapter 16. Ana Darcy is talking to a reporter. She tells him "Germline therapy is the name your scientists have given the technique of modifying the genetic character of cells from which people grow. That is, it can shape heredity, or improve it.... I have had some of my genes altered just after I was conceived....I'm not quite as strong as a comparable native of Earth, but I can move considerably faster."

So that is one example of prescience in the Distant Cousin stories, but there are many others. Ana's stories are light and fun, and never ponderously philosophical or brimming with techno babble. They are NOT fluffy, however--some serious ideas are built into them, and some of the more cutting-edge ideas have since come to pass.

Here is a partial list:

1. Germline therapy to shape prenatal heredity (Distant Cousin, p. 64). (Discussion above.)

2. Many medical tests can now be accomplished with a simple scan of the ear or analysis of a bit of saliva (Distant Cousin, p. 259).

3. Preschool children can effortlessly learn to speak many different languages (Distant Cousin: Repatriation, Distant Cousin: Reincarnation). (Discussion here.)

4. Preschool children can easily learn to read, even in several languages (Distant Cousin: Repatriation, Distant Cousin: Reincarnation). (Discussion here.)

5. Preschool children properly exposed to mathematics, can learn math as easily as they learn to talk (Distant Cousin: Reincarnation). (Discussion here.)

6. Ana Darcy's notion of God has helped at least two readers to accept their place in the universe (Distant Cousin: Repatriation). (Discussion here.)

7. Ana's low-stress running technique was five years ahead of the media's "discovery" of same (Distant Cousin, p. 148, Distant Cousin: Recirculation, p. 12). (Discussion here.)

8. Locating and killing the world's #1 terrorist (Distant Cousin: Recirculation).

Coverage of the recent death of Ray Bradbury, one of the founding fathers of science fiction, has mentioned the many predictions in his stories that have come true (like the iPad). We also note that Mr. Bradbury did not claim to be primarily a writer of science fiction. We don't either! He was first and foremost a writer. And was he ever. May he rest in peace.

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