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Will CRISPR Technology Create a New “Human” Species?

T.C. Boyle will read his short story “Are We Not Men?” at the Los Angeles Hope Festival on Sunday, May 21. The event is free but seats are limited. RSVP here.
US author T.C. Boyle presents his new book 'The Women' at the Leipzig Book Fair on March 13, 2009. (Photo by JENS SCHLUETER/AFP/Getty Images)

T.C. Boyle will read his short story Are We Not Men? at the Los Angeles Hope Festival on Sunday, May 21. The event is free but seats are limited. RSVP here.

American author TC Boyle, who has aptly been described as “a punk Mephistopheles,” talks casually about death and suicide. His interview with Big Think begins, There is no hope whatsoever. Our species will be extinguished probably in a couple of generations, maybe even before that depending upon the microbes of the world.” Yet Boyle exhibits robust mental health, maintaining an orderly writing schedule—four to five hours per day, always in the morning—and a stable life, both with respect to his family and his career as a Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

BTW: Here’s how I’ll be spending the weekend. See you there. P.S. What fun we will have!

— T.C. Boyle (@tcboyle) May 15, 2017

Describing his short story "Are We Not Men?" Boyle says:

"It's about CRISPR technology, which obsesses me. This is a gene editing technology which makes it much easier to edit genes in other species. In fact, if you subscribe to Nature and Science as I do for the past year there's a huge ad right in the beginning of a boxing glove on a fist and it says knock out any gene. They're selling kits to amateurs to anybody to play with various bacteria and gene edit these bacteria. Is this a good idea? I don't think so. And of course, in my telling we're just projecting slightly into the future, when we can make new species. Not to mention the parent who wants to get his kid into the best school. Give me a break. I mean it will be like buying a new car when you have a kid. You go you see how the genes line up and you pick whoever you want. You want eight foot tall? You want orange eyes? You want somebody who can run the hundred-yard dash in nine seconds? That's what it's coming to. So we're not going to be humans anymore, which I guess is no great loss."

Born Thomas John Boyle, TC changed his middle name to Coraghessan at the age of 17. As a writer, he matured at the Iowa Writer's Workshop in the 1970s, staying on after earning his MFA to complete a Phd in 19th century British Literature. While in Iowa, he forged a friendship with Raymond Carver, the best short story writer of a generation, although their two writing styles were dissimilar.

Boyle released his 26th book, The Terranauts, in October of 2016. Below is the full schedule for the Los Angeles Hope Festival.


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