Thursday, February 07, 2019

What's the Worst that Could Happen? (Genetic Engineering Edition)

In this edition of "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" our subject is genetic engineering or genetic modification. In other words, this post looks at what occurs when scientists begin to "design" people or other beings, opening a brand new Pandora's Box in the "improvement" process.

10. In the near-future, genetic engineering becomes common, and parents begin engineering their children. Children born the old-fashioned way, and without genetic modification, can no longer compete in the job market with these designer kids. "Natural" children end up forming a new underclass in an inherently unequal future society. (Gattaca [1997]).

09. Two scientists decide on a whim -- they literally use the phrase "what's the worst that could happen?" -- to genetically engineer a child to use in medical experiments. They try raising a designed child, Dren, as their own offspring, but then get bored and tired of parenting, and all-but abandon her. Their resentful "child" goes on a rampage after being sexually abused by her "father," and kills him. After Dren is killed, her mother tries again, plotting to give life to a second genetically engineered child. (Splice [2010]).

08. Khaaaan! Scientists create a race of genetically-engineered super-men and women, ambitious individuals who promptly start World War III in an attempt to take over the planet. After a devastating conflict, 75 or 80 of these genetically-engineered war criminals leave planet Earth in suspended animation. They are awakened two hundred years in the future, and the leader of the genetically-engineered supermen gets his hands on a doomsday weapon that can rewrite the surface of planets. (Star Trek [1966-1969]).

07. Scientists hoping to eradicate a deadly disease in New York City, create an insect called a Judas Bug to eliminate roaches carrying the virus. The bugs are successful wiping out the disease, but evolve into humanoid insects living in the sewers, and breeding at a prodigious rate. (Mimic [1998]).

06. Hoping to win the Vietnam War, scientists genetically-engineer a strain of super-aggressive, super-murderous piranhas. Some of these jagged toothed-horrors escape from the lab and begin killing unlucky swimmers. (Piranha [1978]).

05. Hoping to cure Alzheimer's, scientists experiment on sharks, making them super-intelligent. Unfortunately, the super-smart great-white-sharks don't like being held captive, and go on a killing spree. (Deep Blue Sea [1999]).

04. A wealthy man hoping to entertain the masses develops the technology to genetically engineer dinosaurs at an amusement park. The dinosaurs break free again and again. A T-Rex even attacks San Francisco. Twenty years later, the technology is perfected and the amusement park opens in earnest. The dinosaurs again break free. After being transported to the mainland, some genetically-engineered dinosaurs break loose in modern American cities. "Welcome to Jurassic World." (Jurassic Park [1993], Jurassic World [2015, 2018])

03. A greedy corporation called Umbrella develops a genetically-engineered "T virus." But the virus escapes the lab, infects the local populace, and precipitates a global zombie apocalypse. (Resident Evil [2002]).

02. A manipulative, secretive and dark force, hidden somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, puts in an order on Kamino for genetically engineered soldiers, or clones, and then plunges the galaxy into a war between clones and droids. (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones [2002]). After doing so, that dark force becomes Emperor.

01. One word: Daleks! On distant Skaro, a scientist named Davros breeds all human and positive emotions out of his beleaguered, war-torn people, creating a race of hateful, malevolent monsters in the first place. Over the centuries, these genetically-engineered monsters envelope the universe in war and widespread violence, exterminating all life that is different. (Doctor Who [1963 - 1989] [2005 - ]).

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