Artist: Edward Ross
Publisher: The EU among others
Ken MacLeod, who’s very Scottish, is one of the most interesting science fiction writers on the planet–and this is still the best primer about his work. I believe the term “polymath” was invented to describe him. So imagine my surprise when I was checking out his blog for Wisdom and found out that he had done a comic extolling the promise of stem cell therapy. It looks like it was commissioned by the EU, in case you’re looking for a comics publisher out of left field.
I’ve seen this kind of thing in Japan where they do big comic books about important issues. I’m assuming this is done to explain the issues to the Japanese public. Somewhere I’ve got some manga that deals entirely with the issue of “Trade War”. Likewise, I think this 16 page primer, which you can read for free online, is meant to educate the European public about the benefits of stem cell therapies.
It’s a very optimistic outlook on stem cell research and I imagine that its done to counter the same kinds of objections that we have here in this country. I guess I used to write about these people when I was writing for Better Humans. Some anti tech group would write about nanotech in a disparaging way in something called “The Big Down” and I would write about how they were wrong to oppose basic research. I should point out that this particular comic explains, in a very sober and disciplined way, the advantages and difficulties of scientific research. Here’s a panel for example:
I must also say that I think that while this could and probably does apply to the European Union (Afterall there’s evidence that the EU’s nation state leadership actually likes its own people. See here and here.), you would have to put a question mark or asterisk around some of the comments here in the US. For example “Regulations help to prevent this, ensuring that safe is followed every step of the way” might actually mean that exact thing in the EU. In the United States big industries, from banks to the coal industry, game the system by lobbying congress to weaken or do away with regulations that affect their industries. And I’m sure there are animal rights activists, even in Europe, that don’t buy that animal testing is completely safe. But I am willing to think that there are people in the EU who want and believe in regulation.
On the other hand, this is a nice tutorial, which I think is aimed at kids and laypeople primarily, about the advantages of stem cell research. Frankly, I wish someone like David Brin would write something like that for this country, with the appropriate caveats of course. Stem cell research, like nanotech and quantum computing, is the kind of thing you want to be “first” at. (America must win the quantum computing distance race….) The company that can derive artificial organs from either adult or embryonic stem cells wins everything. I’ve got a sick feeling that that company won’t be American. 4.2 out of 5 stars. The art is serviceable and cartoony but effective. Very Scott McCloudish. I also hope Ken MacLeod does more comics. I might finally be able to fully comprehend some of his denser novels if there were pictures involved.
- Fofo’s #CBR4 Review #17: The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod(cannonballread4.wordpress.com)
- Stem Cell Therapy Shows Prospects For Severe Neurological Diseases(medicalnewstoday.com)
- Free edu-comic about genomics and stem cells, written by Ken Macleod(boingboing.net)
- Scientists see new hope for restoring vision with stem cell help(phys.org)