Da Vinci Turns Two

April 12, 2005

The Fiction of Historical Accuracy

PopMatters.com

Dan Brown’s mystery/thriller The Da Vinci Codeis the kind of phenomenon for which the words “mammoth” and “blockbuster” were seemingly invented. Every now and again, an author manages to find the cultural sweet spot with surgical precision, and many trees are felled to print the billions of pages demanded by hungry readers.

In fact, the book has been at or near the top of the sales charts for more than two years now — the first printing hit shelves in March, 2003. At one point, Da Vinci was selling around 100,000 copies per week. Two years later, and it’s still hovering in the top five of the New York Timesbestsellers list. To date, it has sold more than 18 million copies and has been translated into at least 44 languages. Everyone I know has read this book. Everyone you know has read this book.

Read the rest of this entry »

PopMatters.com

MORE THAN HUMAN:Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement

The Bright Side of Biotechnology

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. 
— Arthur C. Clarke

Ridley Scott’s excellent and influential 1982 film Blade Runner — based on a Philip K. Dick novel — introduces us to the Tyrel Corporation, a kind of bioengineering firm writ insanely large. Tyrel manufactures robot animals as well as humanoid Replicants, androids that equal or exceed human capabilities and are used for “off-world labor.” Slaves, in other words. The film depicts one of cinema’s great futuristic dystopias, in which out-of-control technology has stripped Earth of virtually all life forms and replaced them with ersatz machines. Tyrel’s Replicant motto: “More Human Than Human.” Read the rest of this entry »