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Tarzan, Help With Biotech?

This week I read he 1912 Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Bourroughs. The 1990 Penguin paperback edition has a great cover by Frank Frazetta.

[Copyright (C) Frank Frazetta]

I enjoyed the book a lot, and now I have to get hold of the first of the many sequels, the 1913 The Return of Tarzan , to see if Tarzan manages to hook up with Jane—who slips through his noble fingers in the final scene of Tarzan of the Apes.

I’m curious about Philp Jose Farmer’s Burroughs/Burroughs pastiche, “The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod,” but I can’t find it online. Maybe I’ll have to buy a Farmer anthology for this one.

[Copyright (C) E. C. Publications, Inc.]

I also dug out my old Mad magazine parody, “Melvin of the Apes,” every frame of which is eiditcally etched into my brain tissues from my first exposure back in the early 1950s.

On an unrelated front, I’ve been thinking about biotech, genomics, bioengineering, bioinformation—whatever you want to call it. I’m thinking there’s a rich vein of SF story material here that’s ripe for more mining.

Of course Paul Di Filippo suggested this years ago in his Ribofunk Manifesto, and his story collection, Ribofunk. And we can’t forget Greg Bear’s classic Blood Music.

I’d be curious to hear suggestions about existing SF along these lines and, above all, I’d like some recommendations for readable popular science books on the subject. I’m not so interested in worries about new plagues, I’m more intrigued about how we might tweak living orgainsms.

9 Responses to “Tarzan, Help With Biotech?”

  1. MarcL Says:

    My favorite Tarzan was Tarzan at the Earth’s Core, where he goes to Pellucidar.

    “PELLUCIDAR, as every schoolboy knows, is a world within a world, lying, as it does, upon the inner surface of the hollow sphere, which is the Earth.”

  2. Motu Says:

    well … if “The cell is King!” [ Paul Di Filippo > RIBOFUNK: The Manifesto > What is Ribofunk then? ] … then [ ] “Wetware / A Computer in Every Living Cell” by Dennis Bray might be required reading …

    currently halfway through this book I could already explain why two single-cell-‘animals’ have individuality [ for instance: they tumble or move on differently ] …

    being a contractor for providing a “second opinion” on automating >intelligenceintelligenceintelligence< … from which follows easily as well "if you are dealing with neurons you should at first study the 'mechono' of single-cell-lifeforms" …

    therefore I arrived at Bray's "Wetware" book published this year …

    this is a current interview because of "Wetware" [ Bray interviewed by Carl Zimmer ]

    this is a session-talk – let's say – leading to "Wetware" [ Dennis Bray – How do living cells compute: ]

  3. Arthur Murphy Says:

    The Hope, Hype, and Reality of Genetic Engineering by John C. Avise which Michael Crichton recommended in his book Next. (Crichton also recommended G. K. Chesterton’s Eugenics and Other Evils)

  4. Stephen Says:

    Are you looking for something beyond bioinformatics? I can only think that the efirst place to start tweaking would be at some sort of interface of data and biology, like in the Doctorow short 0wnz0rd.

  5. Cole Tucker Says:

    Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture
    press release with ordering information:

    Really amazing anthology edited by the guy who made it to #3 on Wired’s “Top 10 New Organisms of 2007.” (

  6. nick Says:

    Betsy and I liked the Disney version of Tarzan, especially his motion thru the trees which was based on skateboard moves rather than rope swingin’.

  7. Motu Says:


    Rudy, please repair my reply already published


    this version of the phrase should work:

    'intelligence' projects I followed the easy guideline "if you are about to implement computer based 'intelligence' you should at first study the 'mechono' of human 'intelligence'

    thanks and ciao, Michael.

  8. JT Says:

    I always enjoyed Norman Spinrad’s nonspecific chaotic approaches to biotech, like “Carcinoma Angels” and the longer “Journals of the Plaque Years.”

  9. Fritzthompson Says:

    I recently started re-reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, a favorite of my youth. I was surprised to find that the Tarzan stories were published concurrently with the John Carter of Mars books. For some reason I’d always thought that the “Science Fiction” came after Tarzan. And now there is a movie adaptation of the Mars books (coming out in 2012, the 100 yr publication anniversary). Philip Jose Farmer also did the odd Tarzan/Doc Savage books A Feast Unknown , and its sequels.

    P.S. this is my first visit to your blog. Thanks for writing.

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