Bioengagement - Summer 2017

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The promise and perils of advances in technology, science, and medicine have long been fertile fodder for creative works in literature and cinema. Consequently, a variety of resources exist exploring the realm of medical humanities as well as those providing in-depth analysis of a given cultural medium or particular artifact. This column seeks to offer a more expansive listing of contemporary expressions of bioethical issues in the popular media (fiction, film, and television)—with minimal commentary—to encompass a wider spectrum of popular culture. It will be of value to educators and others for conversations in the classroom, over a cup of coffee, at a book club, or around the dinner table. Readers are cautioned that these resources represent a wide spectrum of genres and content, and may not be appropriate for all audiences. For more comprehensive databases of the various cultural media, please visit our website at If you have a suggestion for us to include in the future, send us a note at


Ben Bova, Colony

(CreateSpace, 2016).

Cognitive Enhancement, Designer Baby, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics.

Ben Bova, Farside

(Tor Science Fiction, 2013).

Human Enhancement, Nanotechnology, Radical Life Extension, Regenerative Medicine.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

(Broadway Books, 2012).

Emerging Technology, Neuroethics, Technology & Society, Virtual Reality.

James Dashner, The Morality Doctrine Series

  • The Eye of Minds (Ember, 2014).
  • The Rule of Thoughts (Ember, 2016).
  • The Game of Lives (Ember, 2017).

Artificial Intelligences, Cognitive Upload, Cyborgs, Neuroethics, Radical Life Extensions, Transhumanism/Posthumanism, Virtual Reality.

Dave Eggers, The Circle

(Vintage, 2014).

Privacy, Technology & Society.

Jason Hough, Zero World

(Del Rey, 2016).

Cognitive Enhancement, Human Augmentation, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics.

Holly Jennings, Arena

(Ace, 2016).

Neuroethics, Mental Health, Virtual Reality.

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Illuminae

(Ember, 2015).

Artificial Intelligence, Biowarfare, Genetic Engineering, Neuroethics, Personhood.

Dexter Palmer, The Dream of Perpetual Motion

(St. Martin’s Press, 2010).

Robotics, Technology & Society, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Dexter Palmer, Version Control

(Pantheon, 2016).

Autonomous Vehicles, Emerging Technology, Privacy, Technology & Society.

James Patterson, Humans, Bow Down

(Little, Brown and Company, 2017).

Artificial Intelligence, Personhood, Robotics.

Alastair Reynolds, Terminal World

(Ace, 2010).

Human Enhancement, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Alastair Reynolds, The House of Suns

(Ace, 2009).

Artificial Intelligence, Cloning, Neuroethics, Posthumanism/Transhumanism, Radical Life Extension.

Jeff Somers, The Avery Cates Series

  • Electric Church (Orbit, 2007).
  • Digital Plague (Orbit, 2008).
  • The Eternal Prison (Orbit, 2009).

Artificial Intelligence, Cyborgs, Cognitive Upload, Human Enhancement, Nanotechnology, Neuroethics, Personhood, Radical Life Extension, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Dystopian future vision of emerging technologies run amok, complete with nanotech zombie epidemics, cognitive uploading, and a religion espousing digital immortality. The series follows Avery Cates as he transitions from run-of-the-mill killer-for-hire to international assassin to washed-up criminal embroiled in a battle for the future and survival of humanity.

Ned Vizzini, Be More Chill

(Disney-Hyperion, 2005).

Human Enhancement, Cognitive Enhancement, Neuroethics.

Jeremy is your classic high school student struggling with self-esteem. Enter Rich, someone who until the not so distant past was just like Jeremy, but now is the epitome of cool. The secret to Rich’s transformation is a black market pill (“squip”) that he promises will solve all of Jeremy’s problems by means of a little brain boosting.

Bioethics at the Box Office


(2016, PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity).

Designer Babies, Disaster Ethics, Emerging Technology, Eugenics, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Research Ethics.


(2015, PG-13 for thematic content, sensuality, partial nudity and disturbing images).

Eugenics, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Reproductive Ethics


(2015, PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language).

Neuroethics, Research Ethics.

Jupiter Ascending

(2015, PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity).

Genetics, Radical Life Extension, Regenerative Medicine.

Primetime Bioethics

Agents of Shield

(2016, Season 4).

Artificial Intelligence, Cyborg, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Personhood, Radical Life Extension, Transhumanism/Posthumanism, Virtual Reality.



Bioterrorism, Cryogenics, Disaster Ethics, Organ Trafficking, Radical Life Extension, Surrogacy.

Dark Matters


Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Nanotechnology, Personhood, Robotics.

Luke Cage


Human Enhancement, Research Ethics, Transhumanism.

Orphan Black

(2016, Season 4).

Designer Babies, Genetic Engineering, Human Cloning, Human Enhancement, Regenerative Medicine, Research Ethics.