Video Insert: CRISPR-Cas9
Images by B. Kliban
Four years ago, I needed an exit strategy from Corporate America. I had entered my career as a Marine Biologist and for the last 25+ years I was in NYC, as an Information Technology professional. I enjoyed these careers, immensely, but after the tech bubble, IT in Corporate America–for me–seemed to have lost its way; a business man’s parade of sorts. It stripped the creativity from my soul by being too focused on the bottom line. We were no longer inventing anything new and people became a cog in the wheel. That is also when Corporate America changed the name of their HR departments to, Human Capital Management … hmmm …humans as capital….
Between my schooling and life experience, I had acquired all this wonderful base knowledge in my head and the pieces began to fit together, like strands of DNA… but I didn’t know how to express this wonderment to others… until my neighbor, Diana, in apartment 12 K came over and said, “I’m going to kick your ass until you write a sci-fi… that’s what you should be doing!”. I did not want to mess with a fellow NY’er like Diana… so I started writing….
She was right… It’s what I wanted to do… but the adage, Fear of success fear of failure, glued my fingers to the keyboard. I had tried my hand at writing once before but after several thousand words and re-reading it, I realized having a story and having the ability to tell that story is like splicing DNA…. it is tricky and difficult at its best. It was like looking at a painting or reading a passage in a book and then setting out to replicate that beauty… yikes!… Stick figures and lots of eyes looking at or toward something or someone else’s eyes… and that was just chapter one! LOL
So that’s where G+ came in. It opened my eyes and uncurled my fingers to write and publish. Funny thing is, not many people seem to know G+ exists or what it is, yet everyone seems to have a g-mail account.
So I dipped into the sci-fi writers community and quickly realized I was in a place with a lot of the same things, hoping I would fit in. My first post was a bit unnerving. The first person I ever followed was Blair Jackson (now Blair Casey). To get me up and running, I emulated what Jillian Ashe was up to–she can write and run this maze like Algernon and I owe a lot of my early success to her and other G+’ers. It would be a lengthy list of thanks to those who influenced and encouraged me to write (Kyle Pollard), or who I learned from, who I wanted to emulate (Hugh Howey), who I could bounce ideas off of or collaborate with (Richard Murray) or who I could help edit or provide feedback to. So in lieu of naming several hundred supreme influences, all you need to do is look at those I follow; they are my teachers, mentors, muses and friends… yes friends I have never met in person but seem to know very well. Thank God for Google Translate Morgana C. .. LOL… I love your posts as crazy and intelligent as they are.
Fast forward. After listening, and taking the advice of the many gifted and successful writers in my G+ communities, I just started writing, not focusing on the grammar, the cadence, or structure. I just kept writing. I remember joining my first Google Hang out session where an author was stating it was more important to write than to worry about what you are writing about. At the time that seemed absurd, but it turns out it was the best advice I followed. It took about a year and a half of constant writing to become fluent in this beautiful language of storytelling.
NOTE: Words of advice… If you look back at your early work and don’t suck air over your lower teeth because of that writing… then keep writing… you are not there yet.
So what’s the point of this post? What’s with the title and why the gene manipulation video insert?
Writing a novel has taught me how to connect everything I have ever learned to come up with new ideas, concepts and even theories. Barry Commoner was so right in his number one law of Ecology, that ‘Everything is connected to everything else.‘ Writing has taught me to take piece [A] and connect that to piece [B] to make piece [C]. No longer am I intimidated by technologies or ideas beyond my learning. Writing a novel is more taxing than writing a thesis or research paper, where one sets out a methodology to reach a conclusion. I have learned much about quantum theory, space travel, bioengineering, astrophysics and physiology. Writing a sci-fi novel has forced me to think about what alternative societies and religions might look like because I had to throw out everything I knew and take the Necker Cube approach to new thinking. I now have plausible theories of my own and can argue that writing has made me smarter than my peers in IT, because writing sci-fii is about trailblazing in the future of technology. The writer is not stopped because the technology does not exist–we invent what is needed to keep our protagonist moving forward. But to do that, we need to extrapolate from where we were. I have seen the ideas and concepts expressed in my writings come to fruition by others in the real world. I am not claiming my ideas have led others to their discoveries; what I am saying is that I came to the same conclusion, independently and slightly before I saw an application of it. As a writer of sci-fi…. well… that’s simply awesome and exactly where I want to be–surfing the face of that wave and not sitting in the spray back behind it.
I can now watch this video of the CRISPR-Cas9 and say…. “Yeah… I understand this,” and will then modify this process for my protagonist to support their use of a bioSketcher to transmit and modify DNA-mods, accordingly, so they can slip into the population of an exoplanet, unnoticed….
If you want to see more of B. Kliban’s work, start with Whack Your Porcupine