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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > October 2017 > Fauna of the dead

Fauna of the dead

Britt Wray’s new book examines the various considerations underpinning the potential for bringing extinct species back to life


Rise of the Necrofauna: A Provocative Look at the Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction

Britt Wray Greystone Books

“TO THIS DAY I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter. The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.” So says the eponymous vivisector in H.G. Wells’s 1896 novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, an early example of science fiction as cautionary tale. In issuing a warning about the dangers that accrue to a hubristic attempt to manipulate nature, Wells echoes an earlier, similar work: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In that book, the titular doctor – before becoming enamoured with the possibilities of revivifying dead tissue through the process of galvanism – attends a lecture by a famous chemist named Waldman, who suggests that scientists of the day “have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its overshadows.”

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Kidlit Spotlight: how children's book authors uncover beauty, hope, and adventure in the dark places; Fall book reviews: New reads from Frances Itani, Mariko Tamaki, Chris Turner, and Anne Michaels.