Talk:Genetic engineering in science fiction

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Science Fiction (Rated List-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Science Fiction, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of science fiction on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 List  This article has been rated as List-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Genetics (Rated List-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Genetics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Genetics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 List  This article has been rated as List-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.


Adding dates for each work mentioned would make this a lot more informative. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:10, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Brave New World[edit]

Someone should consider referencing A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The book is mainly situated around genetic engineering and human conditioning to creat a perfect society. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 18 April 2006.


The SPARTANs were not genetically engineered. They were chosen because of their genes, and were injected with hormones at puberty, but were genetically human —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 7 November 2006.

List like?[edit]

Should this article be named as a list since it seems to be a list rather than prose? RJFJR (talk) 16:07, 6 October 2012 (UTC)


I am going to deprod this article. I see this article as essentially a list-based article, as described by WP:LIST. I have rewritten the introductory sections to include citations to secondary references, most of them reliable. The intro shows that genetic engineering in fiction is a notable concept. Lists of genetics-themed literature are out there in multiple reliable sources, such as the WTSI and the NHGRI, showing that the idea of a list of such literature is well-founded, too.

The list following the intro follows WP:LIST, in that all but a few of the entries are linked to Wikipedia articles. The few not linked could be removed, if that is a problem. Given that the intro shows notability of the topic and that the associated list follows basic WP:LIST guidelines, the article should be kept.

From a style point of view, the list is huge and could be broken out into its own List of fiction with a genetic engineering theme article, but I'll stop here for the moment. --Mark viking (talk) 05:47, 8 February 2013 (UTC)


This series has not been mentioned at all, despite the fact that genetic engineering is the root cause of all problems in the plot of this trilogy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:02, 19 October 2014 (UTC)


Eugenics is not genetic engineering so does not fit in with this article/list title. I am tempted to just remove it, but other options may be a split or rename of this article. AIRcorn (talk) 20:00, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

How have you come to that conclusion? Eugenics includes selective breeding and artificial selection. Selective breeding and artificial selection are also considered genetic engineering by some official entities, such as the European Commission. While not all types of eugenics are genetic engineering, inclusion probably needs to be decided on a per case basis. --Mark viking (talk) 20:37, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
If selective breeding is genetic engineering then all humans and domesticated animals, plus a whole lot of others are genetically engineered. Better to use the tighter definition, not the broad one for articles like this. AIRcorn (talk) 20:56, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
An interesting problem. One way to solve it is to rename this article "genetic manipulation in literature", "genetics in literature" (or some other broader definition that includes breeding and things like Frankenstein), and then create subcategories of "genetic engineering", Eugenics, etc. How do the other encyclopedias handle this? We should probably follow their examples, since their articles seem more mature from what little I have reviewed here. What do libraries and bookstore do? How do the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress cataloging systems handle this? No need to re-invent the wheel, if this problem has already been solved. One of the problems obviously is that writers of fiction anticipated genetic engineering without understanding the actual and practical limitations and boundaries that distinguish different technologies that determine the clearer boundaries we have today. Some categories regarding genetics and eugenics in fiction may have made sense in the past and may precede the practical naming conventions we use today. For that reason the concept "genetic engineering in science fiction" may have a different meaning than "genetic engineering" as defined by regulators, scientists or by the mainstream media. So we might need to consult with some expert WP:RS in the field of literature or library science before making a decision on this. --David Tornheim (talk) 11:44, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
I couldn't find an article on cloning so I am thinking the best thing would be to gchange this title to Genetic manipulation in science fiction and keep the current section headings and add cloning (category:cloning in fiction). Not sure reanimation should be included as that goes quite a bit broader again and is covered in some part by List of zombie films, Frankenstein in popular culture and probably others. Maybe just link in a see also. AIRcorn (talk) 07:44, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

Requested move 23 January 2016[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: No consensus after over three weeks. Cúchullain t/c 16:14, 15 February 2016 (UTC)

Genetic engineering in science fictionGenetic manipulation in science fiction – Currently the article consists of two lists, one for "Genetic engineering in science fiction" and another for "Eugenics in science fiction". Eugenics can only be considered genetic engineering if we take a very broad view of its definition (see Genetic engineering#Definition). Also the presence of two lists with one named after the title suggests that Eugenics does not fit well under this current heading. Renaming to genetic manipulation provides a much broader focus for this article, allowing eugenics to fit much more comfortably. It will also allow the closely related topic of "cloning in science fiction" to be covered if desired. AIRcorn (talk) 07:30, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

Note: see above thread for early discussion regarding eugenics in this article. @Mark viking: @David Tornheim:. AIRcorn (talk) 07:33, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for the notice. I have no opinion at this time, except I would like to wait until there is feedback from someone who knows this subject better than I do before making an opinion. I would still like to know how this subject has been classified by others, so we do not reinvent the wheel as I discussed above. I provided notice here. There may be another WikiProject related to literature or fiction that is appropriate to notice. Not sure. --David Tornheim (talk) 07:48, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment; I'm of the opinion that the title 'genetic manipulation in science fiction' might be too broad. I would like to hear what the OP thinks about splitting the article in two instead, creating 'Eugenics in science fiction'. If there is not any support for a split, I'd say go for the new title.  InsertCleverPhraseHere InsertTalkHere  09:18, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Splitting was one of the options I mentioned above and I would be fine with that. AIRcorn (talk) 20:06, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment: Pulling Eugenics out is a possibility, but I believe there may be legitimate similar concern may arise that some fiction may describe genetic manipulation before DNA was discovered that might not necessarily be classified as either GE or Eugenics (as described here and here). Another option I would be more supportive of is to rename it like those in the first two footnotes of the article ([1] and [2]) that use neither GM nor GE, but instead just call it "Genetics in Science Fiction"--simpler and more direct. My concern about a name to GM is that it will make it harder for our readers to find. If it were me, I would more likely search for GE than GM. If you look at this data for Google Searches "genetic engineering" comes up 25x much more often than "genetic manipulation". Also for a Google search of "genetic manipulation", the first thing that comes up is our article on "genetic engineering", suggesting that GE is the more familiar term people are using today. So based on that I tentatively oppose the change even if it is technically more accurate. I would be okay with a disclaimer at the top explaining the difference between GM and GE (even if the title becomes "Genetics in Science Fiction", and something about the history as explained in this article on GE in Sci Fi. This would accomplish both goals of making the reader more able to understand the difference between GE and GM -and- still more likely to find our article in a Google search of either GE or genetics. Based on this my preferences, in this order are:
  1. Keep the title as is: GE in SciFi -or- change to: Genetics in SciFi

    (and add explanation to diff. between GM and GE either way)

  2. Pull out Eugenics in SciFi as new article
  3. Proposed Change to: GM in SciFi
--David Tornheim (talk) 10:31, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
if we did a move as suggested, a redirect from 'genetic engineering in science fiction' would be placed, dealing with most of the issue of users finding it. In any case ' genetic's in science fiction' is a little too vague in my opinion, as for example the study of genetics in sience fiction would suddenly fit, resulting in article content change. Also, any issues that 'genetic manipulation in science fiction' has with user recognition is an even worse problem with ' genetics in science fiction'. The only choices I'd support of the option above are a split or the proposed change to 'genetic manipulation'  InsertCleverPhraseHere InsertTalkHere  21:00, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Please forgive my negativity, but I think you folks are just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Unless and until there is a concerted effort to save this article from simply being a repository of fancruft, it matters very little what name you give it. Having said that, I think the better approach is to use as broad a title as possible, to wit: Genetics in science fiction. Doing so will allow the editors some time to reach a consensus as to where to draw the lines between engineering/manipulation/breeding/hybrids/clones/etc. It will also allow the article to devote some discussion to the contrasts and similarities between the various sub-topics. Furthermore, a broad-based article will be the best (perhaps, the only) place to discuss works that are outside the scope of "hard SF" (i.e., works in which the author gives no scientific details as to how the genetically-strange creature/thing/person was created).
In response to David's general query as to how this question is treated in other places, I was curious enough to look up Wells' classic Island of Dr. Moreau on the Library of Congress site. They don't consider the story to be a "genetic" anything—they classify it as a story about "animal experimentation". And if memory serves, the SF-Encyclopedia site does something similar, calling it a story of "animal uplift" (but I haven't checked the entry, so my memory might be off).
I hope this was helpful. NewYorkActuary (talk) 20:33, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
^Yes it was helpful. Thanks. As stated above, I agree that renaming to "Genetics in Science Fiction" is my preferred option as well, and the subtle (or not so subtle) distinctions between the various categories can be described in the article.
And thanks for looking up the category for Island of Dr. Moreau. How did you do that? I messed around with it a little and don't know enough about Library of Congress to know how to answer a simple question like that. This is interesting to describe procurement and their definition of Sci Fi. I know how it is done for non-fiction in categories like TK for electrical engineering, when I used to study that. --David Tornheim (talk) 22:32, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, but I don't quite recall how I got to the LoC entry. I was using a search engine (Bing) and trying various things until something useful came up. Here is a direct link to one of the LoC entries. (Note that there is a separate entry for each publication of Moreau, and they don't always use the same subject descriptions.) As for the SF-Encyclopedia entry, I got the name a bit wrong -- the entry is "Uplift", not "Animal Uplift". NewYorkActuary (talk) 23:35, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. That was helpful too. From that page, where it says "form/genre" and it has a link for science fiction. If you click on that science fiction link, you get the beginning of the list of all the subcategories of science fiction, which I looked through. Surprisingly, there is nothing devoted to genetics or eugenics at all. The raw list of ALL Library of Congress subject classifications is here. I looked through the PDF for the subjects starting with the letter S and reviewed all the "science fiction" entries (and letter G for genetics and letter F for fiction), and it was the same--no genetics or eugenics for SciFi or fiction, but the are categories for Star Wars fiction and Star Trek fiction! One interesting find was that there is actually a book dedicated to the classification of Science Fiction here. --David Tornheim (talk) 09:15, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
NewYorkActuary I think the first step in fixing an article like this should be to decide what the focus of the article is. For example, before I started the conversations here I removed information relating to the cloning of Dolly as that fell outside the scope of Genetic Engineering. However, if either of the name changes go through then that information becomes relevant and probably even essential. As to fixing this I think the first step (after the name) is to decide if this is going to be a list or an article, but that is a discussion for another thread. AIRcorn (talk)
Sorry for the delay in response. As to your observation that title/focus/depth are separate questions, I agree but also note that there is a benefit to considering them simultaneously. For example, if the feeling here is that you all want the article to be (essentially) a list article (or perhaps a series of list articles), then my initial point remains unchanged—it matters little what name you use. Any attempt to conform the list(s) to strict scientific definitions will be thwarted by well-intentioned editors who simply are not familiar with those definitions. And the situation is made worse by the fact that there isn't any broadly-accepted definition of "genetic engineering" (the link you gave at the top does a good job of making that clear). The fact that some users of the term do indeed use it in a very broad fashion (and I suspect this is true of the average non-scientist reader) also points in the direction of leaving the title unchanged.
But if there is a consensus that the fancruft should be removed and replaced with an article that discusses the development of genetic themes within science fiction, that new article would be able to go into some detail as to the scope of its definitions. And, as noted before, it would be better to start with a broad-themed title (and, hence, article). Such an approach preserves options, as subtopics can be spun off into "main articles" if there proves to be enough material to make that desirable. This seems unlikely (in the absence of fancruft) and, in any event, is a possibility that is better addressed when and if it becomes necessary. NewYorkActuary (talk) 00:21, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
The European commissions broad definition has been a pain in the arse in other articles too and is not helped by some lower forms of media using the term very loosly.[3][4]. For practical reasons alone we really have to follow the narrow definition at our {{genetic engineering}} articles. When the average non-scientist is discussing the controversies behind genetic engineering I don't think they are talking about selective breeding, but many probably do put cloning into that basket. Anyway the first step to fixing any problem is discussing it and we are doing that now. AIRcorn (talk) 21:11, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
It's worse than you think. The 1990 (print) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica defines genetic engineering as "any of a wide range of techniques for the deliberate modification of existing organisms and the potential generation of totally new types of organisms. ... The practice embraces both artificial selection and all the interventions of biomedical techniques, among them artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (e.g., "test-tube" babies), sperm banks, cloning, and gene manipulation." So it isn't just the lower forms of media or the European Commission that are using a broad definition of the term (though I recognize that the Commission's definition might have influenced the Britannica's). But it might be more helpful to the discussion to simply state that there is no great harm in using the colloquial definition here. I believe I see your concern that someone versed in the strict scientific definitions might be taken aback by seeing a broader definition being applied in the article. But that concern is easily addressed by putting the Britannica (or similar) definition at the top of the article. For the average non-scientific reader, the definition will not surprise them. And for the scientific reader, the definition will give ample notice that the broader colloquial definition is being used. NewYorkActuary (talk) 23:22, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
  • ^I agree. That's one of the points I was making earlier on, that the colloquial term is preceded the terms like GMO. GMO has a distinctly different and specific meaning in practical fields and in regulations. I agree with Aircorn that in our other articles on *real* GMOs, we need to do what we have been doing and use the stricter definition, but I do not think that needs to apply for fiction, especially if the term "genetic engineering" has been used to include selective breeding, etc. for some time.
For me the intersection the idea of Genetic Engineering in science fiction was not and is not constrained so much with ACTUAL science of today--it is after all fiction and often futuristic. I think of books like Brave New World, it didn't really matter how the various types of humans were created. Typically works of fiction like this, Philip K. Dick's works (and the movies that came from them like The Minority Report, Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly), Terminator and Logan's Run and perhaps Orwell's 1984, the concern is really not at all about the mechanics of how the human (or other organism) was modified (or androids were created) by science/technology, and instead the focus is far more on the ethics and potential problems that might arise--as least for the dystopic ones like these. But even for something like Star Trek where you have the technology for a teleporter but nothing like this in real science/technology, no one obviously really knows what the technology is, and in a sense it does not matter if in the future someone actually comes up with something like that. Or also consider the transmitters of Star Trek that are like today's cell phones (earlier version of the cell phones were actually modeled after Star Trek), no one would say that Captain Kirk was using a cell phone to communicate with the Starship, right? We would not have a category of "Cell phones in Science Fiction". So that's why I do not think it is that important to be exact, and using a colloquial term is preferable. --David Tornheim (talk) 00:14, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Genetic engineering in science fiction. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

As of February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required on behalf of editors regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification, as with any edit, using the archive tools per instructions below. This message updated dynamically through the template {{sourcecheck}} (last update: 1 May 2018).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 05:45, 9 January 2017 (UTC)