Biofiction: End of Life Edition

Issues: 

 

CBHD often receives requests from educators and other individuals for popular resources that engage bioethics through various media (fiction, film, and television). In this resource, we offer an overview of materials relevant to end-of-life issues in fictional books and series. Readers are cautioned that these works represent a wide variety of genres and may not be appropriate for all audiences. If there is a work you think we missed, email us at info@cbhd.org.

 

End-of-Life

  • Asimov, Isaac. Pebble in the Sky (1950; repr., Tor, 2008)
    • The first novel from the sci-fi legend lays the groundwork for what Asimov later developed into the Empire Series and the subsequent Foundation Series. Pebble in the Sky follows Joseph Schwartz, a 20th century retired tailor who inexplicably finds himself living some 50,000 years in the future. Schwartz becomes the unwitting subject of a neuroenhancement research trial and is embroiled in an intra-galactic bioterrorism plot to bring an end to the reign of the Galactic Empire. (Topics: Biotechnology, Bioterrorism, Euthanasia, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Research Ethics)
  • Atwood, Margaret. MaddAddam Trilogy (Series)
    • Oryx and Crake (Anchor, 2004)
    • The Year of the flood (2010)
    • MaddAddam (2013)
    • The trilogy explores the aftermath of a cataclysmic bioterror pandemic that eradicates most of the human species. In the first volume, the main character Jimmy is the unwitting accomplice to the bioterror event for which his friend Crake/Glen is responsible. As Jimmy realizes the scope of what has happened he seeks to protect a humanoid species (the Crakes) that Crake has genetically-engineered, with a group of friends referred to as the MaddAddamites. The second volume follows an environmental cult, God's Gardeners, and two of their members - Toby and Ren - as they seek to survive in the aftermath of a landscape infested with genetically-engineered intelligent creatures. The final volume brings the survivors together as they seek to rebuild some semblance of civilization in the midst of threats from other humans who have seemingly lost their humanity. (Topics: Animal-Human Hybrids, Bioterrorism, Biotechnology, Egg Donation, Euthanasia, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Personhood, Posthuman, Research Ethics)
  • Lowry, Louis. The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993)
    • (Topics: Designer Babies, Eugenics, Euthanasia, Genetic Engineering, Neuroethics, Personhood, Reproductive Technology, Surrogacy)
  • Lowry, Louis. Gathering Blue (Houghton Mifflin, 2000)
    • (Topics: Infanticide, Disability)
  • Morgan, Kass. The 100 Series
    • The 100 (Little, Brown, and Co., 2013)
    • Day 21 (Little, Brown, and Co., 2014)
    • Several centuries after nuclear war has ravaged the planet, the human race is surviving on an aging orbital colony. With resources scarce, the governing council decides to send a group of100 teenage criminals to Earth to investigate whether radiation has dissipated enough for the earth to again be habitable. The 100 work to rebuild some semblance of society in a radically new environment, meanwhile several of their leaders struggle to come to grips with their past. After a series of mysterious murders, the 100 come to the startling realization that they are not the only survivors on the planet. (Topics: Euthanasia, Research Ethics)
  • Polansky, Stephen. The Bradbury Report: A Novel (Weinstein, 2010)
    • Pseudonymous chronicle of Raymond Bradbury, a retired teacher in New England, who encounters his copy (Alan) - A human clone who has been created as part of the U.S. government's solution to the developing healthcare crisis by creating a ready supply of spare organs. Ray's copy is the first known escape from the heavily guarded government cloning farms, and Ray is brought into a conspiracy to help Alan evade government capture. (Topics: Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide, Healthcare Ethics, Human Cloning, Organ Trafficking, Personhood)

 

 

Updated December 2016