Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Microscopic Doctors and Molecular Black Bags: Science Fiction's Prescription for Nanotechnology and Medicine.

Miksanek, Tony

Journal Information:
Literature and Medicine
Vol. 20, Num. 1


Miksanek's article reviews and comments on specific science fiction stories that canvass the uncertain future in nanotechnology. He writes "especially relevant to help us scrutinize the promise and the peril of nanotechnology [are] Blood Music, The Diamond Age, and The First Immortal.... All of these fictional works agree that nanotechnology will profoundly alter the way in which humans live, but only one novel envisions the change as unequivocally positive and desirable. All three authors foresee the human race evolving through nanotechnology, even though their opinions greatly differ as to how."

"Blood Music" chronicles an uncontrolled mad scientist and "doomed self-experimenter;" In The Diamond Age , the "pursuit of happiness is not so much enhanced by nanotechnology as it is threatened and submerged." Miksanek adds: "Surrounded by and immersed within technological brilliance, the inhabitants of The Diamond Age nevertheless often appear a bit dimmed by paranoia, inhumanity, and spiritual lethargy." The First Immortal, by contrast, "anticipates a twenty-first century essentially devoid of death, in which biological immortality becomes a reality."

Nanotechnology is legitimized by corporations, by the U.S. government, and has taken root in the public's imagination. It is likely to proceed, with accompanying debate. Miksanek concludes "Precise, powerful, and nearly invisible, nanotechnology might also be inevitable. Recent scientific research and developments support the belief that nanotechnology is inching from theory to reality, and medicine is poised to reap its rewards."