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Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  945 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Winner of 2014 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Best Young Adult Science Book
Longlisted for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
One of Nature's Summer Book Picks
One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Spring 2013 Science Books

For centuries, we've toyed with our creature companions, breeding dogs that herd and hunt, housecats that look like tigers, and teacup pigs that f
ebook, 256 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published March 1st 2013)
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Start your review of Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
By randomly disabling the rodents’ genes, the scientists here are churning out hundreds of odd animals, assembly-line style. They have created mice studded with skin tumors and mice that grow tusks. There’s a mouse with male-pattern baldness, hair everywhere save for a lonely bare spot on its head. Some of the mice have strange behavioral quirks—they endlessly bury marbles, for instance, or make only left turns. One strain ages at warp speed. Another can’t feel pain. (c)
While some of the rod
Nicola Michelle
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a great read. The last time I really covered biotechnology was one of my modules on my undergraduate degree (what feels like an age ago!) and it was great reading up on all sorts of the weird and wonderful (and not so wonderful) technological advances of biotech.
It’s amazing and horrifying the things they can do with science. From biotech saving our pets, bionic dogs, cloning and genetics to robotics, electronic tagging and prosthetics! Very interesting book.
Cheryl is busier irl atm.
Pop science survey for voters, consumers, and parents of future scientists. Not technical, no charts or illustrations or bibliography. Thorough notes and index. A quick and fascinating read. I had some idea of some of what's been going on, but there was plenty of new information, too.

One thing I should have known but didn't is that wolves weren't reintroduced to Yellowstone just for their own sake. The elk were overpopulating the park, eating the trees... now that the wolves are back, the elk he
Camille McCarthy
Jun 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really disliked this book because it was mostly about a subject I detest (messing with nature through genetic engineering and other types of engineering) but also because it was written in a really irritating style full of cliches and words that annoy me such as "pooches" and "critters". I disliked the way the author tried to put a positive slant on genetic engineering because she did not come across as much of an authority on anything in this book and personally if one does research in the fi ...more
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is popular science writing at its best. Anthes takes us on a journey of where life meets the cutting edge of technology, from genetically engineered pets like glo-fish to cloned cats to bionic rats. We learn about deep sea creatures tagged with sensors to give us information about the ocean floor, cryonic tanks full of endangered species DNA, a make-your-own robo-roach kit, and a rescued dolphin with a prosthetic tail.

Antes brings up ethical questions about whether we should or shouldn't m
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
**3.5 Stars**

Ok, I wasn't sure about this book because I hated the first chapter, so let me break it down by chapter:

Go Fish - I found it a horrible idea and concept that we could eventually get to the point where we were ordering designer pets; pets displaying our team colors or that glow in the dark.

Got Milk? - Phasinating. I really liked reading about Pharming and all the benefits there are to adding antibodies into goat and cow milk. The medical application can become limitless (as long as
Georg Gerstenfeld
Despite mediocre writing and a muddle of anecdotes, this book is worth reading. What science can do and is doing to animals needs to be debated in a much more public way. Some of the examples are disturbing, especially the way companies exploit genetic modification to create designer pets that glow in the dark. In the absence of public debate and intelligent discourse, emotional responses by government regulators and their constituents often lead to these genetic engineering technologies migrati ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, nonfiction, science
"For centuries, we’ve toyed with our creature companions, breeding dogs that herd and hunt, housecats that look like tigers, and teacup pigs that fit snugly in our handbags. But what happens when we take animal alteration a step further, engineering a cat that glows green under ultraviolet light or cloning the beloved family Labrador? Science has given us a whole new toolbox for tinkering with life. How are we using it? In Frankenstein’s Cat, the journalist Emily Anthes takes us from petri dish ...more
Brian Clegg
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my experience, more scientists like dogs than cats (a dangerous assertion, I admit), which is why, perhaps, a cat ended up on the receiving end of the most famous thought experiment in history, Schrödinger’s Cat. Although the cat in Emily Anthes’ title obviously owes its existence to its hypothetical quantum cousin, though, this isn’t a book about thought experiments, but the real things. From fluorescent fish to cyborg animals, this is the story of what we are really doing – or planning to d ...more
Ralph McEwen
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful but quick read. The touches on the good and bad in today's technology and looks hopefully at what the future may hold. ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Before officially cracking open the pages, my first impressions were that I would (1) hopefully enjoy this book and (2) learn something new. As a person who works with genetically engineered organisms, I’ve never taken a step back to see what the layman viewed my work as and this book hopefully is an eye opener - both in terms of bioethics and scientific discovery. Right from the bat, I can tell that it’s referencing heavily to science fiction tropes: Frankenstein’s “cat” and Brave New “Beasts”. ...more
Alyssa Goss
This book is readable but not very informative. The author tends to gloss over how the processes she's describing work in favor of waxing poetic about the possibilities such procedures might create. She's also incredibly biased, making a cursory show of trying to argue both sides but not hiding her blind enthusiasm. She ignores arguments that might force her to present an actual case for say genetic engineering of food, such as the fact that genetically engineered plants have already turned up i ...more
I found this book a shocking read. Against the backdrop of an industry continuing to regard animals as tools for human betterment (Chinese factories mass-producing lab-mice with specific abnormalities?), this messenger has a disturbingly breezy apathy. The author's tone lacks the substance or balance you'd expect from an MIT graduate. Although she touches on some ethical issues, her voice is clear : the new frontier in animal manipulation is both fun and exciting. A rather flippant delivery unde ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. It taught me so much about the rapidly evolving world of genetics & was written so this layperson could understand the science. I do have to tell you that some of what is done is horrifying...and I get that research has its "costs". But I'm uncomfortable with the tradeoffs yet have no satisfying alternative to offer.

No matter what your interest in science...this book is a must read just so you'll be in the "know" for what's happening. And definitely be more in the know
Mark Pepp
Good book that discusses many of the scientific and technological advances that are creating new breeds of living organisms never found in nature... a lot of interesting stuff, but I gotta admit I felt the author comes across as biased in favor of genetically modifying organisms despite the lack of long-term scientific study of consequences thereof
I thought this book was amazing. It was well researched and written in a style that was easy to understand but not dumbed down enough that a little kid could read it. Definitely a book I would like to own.
May 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Some years ago, I read a fascinating book by paleontologist Jack Horner, titled How to Build a Dinosaur: The New Science of Reverse Evolution. Since science has proven it is patently impossible to bring back dinosaurs using their DNA (ala Jurassic Park), Horner instead proposes an intriguing alternative: reverse-engineering dinosaurs from birds. The entire book explains how, through evolutionary development (or "evo-devo," as Horner calls it), scientists may genetically manipulate a chicken so t ...more
I read this book, frankly, for the cover. CUTE! This book is definitely cute and, if you weren’t clued in by the structure and alliteration of the title bearing eerie similarity to every major college essay ever written, it is rather uncomplicated as well. For anyone interested in a rose-colored peak into various avenues of biotechnology, this book is a great primer.

Anthes is clearly writing lay-person science. Fun science! The book is so chock-full of interesting stories, from cloned pets to pr
Midu Hadi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
it's a clearly written enough book, giving more time over to the mechanical explanations behind the movements of bio-tech - and i think it's commendable that she writes in such a layman's voice that it's easy enough to digest what she's saying even though i have no knowledge whatsoever in this field. the book is split into multiple case studies discussing different ways biotech is utilised in animals, and she splices these mechanical explanations and case studies with her own mediations on the e ...more
I think this is one of the best science books I have ever read by far. It talks about so many ways we have used animals for scientific reasons. Such as ‘mind control’, cloning, spider-goats and glowing! It’s obvious bionic animals are going to take over the planet with their abilities.

The author wrote in some quotes the scientists have said about their projects with explanations. Sure the chapters are a little long, but they are definitely worth it. Each chapter goes into the long detail of ho
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a whirlwind trip through the emerging realm of biological tinkering, particularly of animals. The book breathlessly divides it time partly in the science of how genetic modification is performed, but also delves into some of the ethical considerations.

To start with it was interesting. After the first chapter (on fish bread to fluoresce day-glow colours), the book for me lost steam. It felt like a bullet pointed list of all that was being done, and all that the mad scientists wanted to b
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm kind of in two minds about this book. I think it's an interesting subject worth knowing more about but I feel like if you are interested in this subject this book will just read like a summary of newspaper articles to you. In fact if this was a bunch of articles on say a blog photography probably would have helped create a more engaging "book". The author seems to speak with very little conviction and while she deserves credit for trying to balance the argument and help you see both sides, w ...more
D DePalma
I suppose this book is decent enough if you don't know much about biotechnology; it's relatively informative and most of the research is well-done. But the author's bias towards the subject is painfully obvious, even toward the end of the book when she gets into subjects that are less palatable, and there are times when her narrative is downright childish. I understand the assumption that your reader doesn't understand any of the science, but this book is (presumably) written for adults. She cou ...more
David Gee
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a well written (& well read) audiobook and very informative. I learned many new and interesting things about animal modifications of various kinds, and the associated history, science, research, and applications. The coverage felt fair, exploring the current and potential long-term benefits of each approach while acknowledging opposing viewpoints and calling out areas posing particularly challenging ethical questions. From previous readings I expected this to focus more on the genetic m ...more
Richard Gombert
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2021
A good book.
I liked the fact that the author clearly outlines that humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for millennia. Both food, pets and for "beautification".
She then discusses various advancements in genetic modification as well as prosthetics.
There is a brief discussion about our possible necessity to share our advancements with other species and what that might mean.
The one fault I found is that she never mentions the term for this, uplift (is a developmental process to
Adam Tash
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought-provoking and very interesting as a survey of the inevitable and ongoing integration of tech and biology. Takes readers into real-life applications of these ideas - each chapter goes in-depth about a sub-topic and generally involves a visit to a specific expert (s). As a total outsider and novice many were totally new to me. Personally not interested in the author's thoughts about the topic and often found myself on a different wavelength from her personal views. She is very trusting and ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was filled with TERRIBLE puns and about ten pages discussing prosthetic animal balls. Don't worry she made puns about that too. This was painstaking for me to read but I have to admit some of the topics were pretty interesting. Other ideas really creeped me out. ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genetics, science
Okay - good. The author will occasionally give in to the very tabloid journalism she claims to despise but this seems more out of a misunderstanding than out of a need for sensationalism. After all, it is easier to speculate when you know less on the topic.
Daniel Hutt
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book on the current affairs in neuroscience, prosthetics, and our relationship with animals as it pertains to both.
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Emily Anthes is an award-winning science journalist and author. Her new book, The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness, will be published in June 2020 by Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her previous book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, was long-listed for the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science ...more

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