Chasing Captain America: How Advances in Science, Engineering, and Biotechnology Will Produce a Superhuman

E. Paul Zehr. ECW (PGW, U.S. dist.; Jaguar, Canadian dist.), $15.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-77041-199-9
Zehr (Project Superhero), director of the Centre for Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, introduces readers to various existential threats that could potentially follow from attempts to create a real-life equivalent to Captain America. He methodically compares the theoretical requirements for creating a supersoldier with current science’s ability to satisfy them. The major theme is how procedures intended to alter disabilities, some of which could be applied to the general population to enhance natural performance to superhuman levels, might contribute to actual threats to humankind, such as unintended mutations—or even unforeseen consequences of intended ones—affecting entire populations. Despite any ethical dilemmas, Zehr argues scientists must push forward, albeit with thoughtfulness and caution. The level of detail required to discuss various scientific concepts frequently forces him to digress significantly from the Captain America metaphor, and some attempts to maintain the comics connection feel forced and inadequate. This is, however, a good introduction for readers unfamiliar with recent scientific developments in biotechnology, bioengineering, and synthetic biology. Agents: Sam Hiyate and Ali McDonald, Rights Factory. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/28/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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