By C. Michael Forsyth
ZURICH, Switzerland — Halloween is around the corner and you know what that means. That’s right, another annual gathering of the world’s top genetic engineers as they parade their kookiest creations at the Frankenstein Awards.
Each year, scientists present life forms they’ve created through gene-splicing. Past winners have included a goat-spider hybrid, a camel with the head of a pig, a bouncy, meowing marvel playfully dubbed the Katgaroo, and last year’s recipient of a Victor in the Most Frightening category: a wriggling, legless poodle with a dash of earthworm DNA.
“The Frankenstein Awards is an opportunity for genetic engineers to get out of the lab, let their hair down and show their creative side,” explains Swiss science writer Julien Anliker.
The Parade of Monsters held on October 31 is the climax of a three-day convention featuring panels, lectures and late-night karaoke.
This year’s presentation is expected to be livelier than ever because for the first time hybrids with human DNA will be included in the competition. Teams of researchers from around the world have been laboring in secret, each hoping to blow away their colleagues with a dazzling new living wonder.
“The Brits have reportedly been working on a human-hamster mix they’ve nicknamed The Humster,” said Anliker. “The Greek team, led by Professor Demetrikos, is going with a cultural theme this year. It’s rumored they’ve been developing a life form inspired by Greek mythology, perhaps a centaur or a minotaur. That’s one of the most eagerly anticipated entries.”
While in past years some critics have denounced the awards ceremony for trivializing genetic research, participants insist that they learn a lot from cultivating their colorful creations. And the scientists point out that DNA manipulation is a boon to mankind.
Dr. Boris Petrovsky of Russia predicts, “One day soon, we will wipe out many genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, discover a cure for cancer, and perhaps engineer a race of superior humans that will serve as the replacement species for homo sapiens.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
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