7

I'm searching for a book from the 90's that was a collection of short stories about bio-engineering.

The first story, I think, was about a man who was discovered to have a clinical condition called fetus in fetu, where his twin was surrounded by him in the womb, and is inside him, still living, but starting to grow and causing problems, it is now possible for him to give birth to his brother by changing sex and becoming functionally female.

Another story is about a brilliant bio-engineer who gets seduced into the private sector by the promises of riches and woman (he is, in his own view, very ugly), where he develops a set of synthetic hormones and delivery systems that allow him ( and very rich select clients) to make woman lust for them and conditioned them to the hormones.

Another story is about another bio-engineer that gets rich and influential by designing chairs (he was also called Morris, so he made Morris chairs, starting with cow undifferentiated cells to make a living chair that would keep the preferred shape, temperature, etc, that the user prefers). He finds out that his wife is having an affair with his business partner, and using a new technique that he developed to return mature cells to their undifferentiated state, he first turns his wife into a chair, in which he makes his business partner (Marshall?) sit. The chair then masturbates him, while Morris is making fun of the situation, and in the end he makes both his wife and her lover into a sofa, with two hearts.

One of the stories is passed in an hollowed out asteroid, where a scientist has created a self-contained environment in which biology is not Darwinian, but Lamarckian. He is talking with a robot who was tasked with destroying the asteroid and its life form as they are deemed too dangerous if they escape. The man eventually shoots the robot, destroying him and the glass that separates his life forms from the rest of the asteroid. He goes into the chamber and is consumed/transformed by his creation. With time, the life-form, helped by the influx of (to them) strange DNA, starts evolving to eat the remains of the robot, and eventually the gaskets that keep the atmosphere in the asteroid, making a leak that gets ever wider, which causes it to change orbit a bit, to inside the Earth's orbit. Later, they develop space resistant spores that get pushed outward the solar system, passing Earth orbit with the promise of new life.

Another I can remember is a man that, almost by accident, discovers a way to make people almost immortal by means of a virus he has developed in lab rats and his assistant/lover, who, in his opinion has an unhealthy fondness for the rats. He notices that some of them do not seem to age, and finds out that the man has made his discovery some decades prior and kept it a secret, as it only works for women. His partner disappears with some rats and the schematics of the virus, and the woman investigating the case is former lover and current friend of the scientist, but she realizes that he could have made her immortal but chose not to when it was possible for her, as the process is only effective in fertile females, as the virus basically creates a kind of cancer of the ovule that develops (as a kind of copy) replacing the old cells by brand new ones made from the ovules.

There was also a kind of modern retelling of the story of Agamemnon and Jocasta.

The book ends (I think) with the story of the House of Usher (based on Poe). The titular Usher invites a friend from college times to his house, which is an experiment in living houses, or houses with some biological processes, where he tells him that he is dying and expects him to be his will (Enforcer? Testifier?). He tells his friend about the house and about his sister, who was born with a disease that the whole family knew would take her at adolescence, so they tried to make a happy life for her, and his brother is caught in the family desire to make all her days happy, so, when she dies, he is devastated and retreats to the house he was building, knowing he also has the same disease, but that is not so grave in men, but it would significantly shorten his life. In the middle of the night his friend is waken by a moaning voice in the corridor, and is surprised to find a young girl corresponding with the description of the dead sister. Eventually it is discovered that usher has been using some of the modified giant insects that build (and keep building) his house to make copies of his sister, but they live only for one night, are non-sentient, and are only programmed to seek comfort and companionship. He and his colleagues have been using modified insects for building, garbage cleaning, maintenance, etc, for some time now, but he found a way of also tapping into the moulting process of insects to insert some of his sister's genes and make adult forms of the insect that look like her.

There are probably more stories in the book, these are the ones I can remember more clearly.

The version I read had a mostly black cover with a very red small picture and was in Portuguese.

5

The "hollowed out asteroid" story is Stableford's "The Engineer and the Executioner". It was asked about in this question: Trying to remember the name of a short scifi story about a biology experiment in space but it is not a duplicate, because this question is asking about an anthology.

Based on that story, I think the anthology may be "Sexual Chemistry: Sardonic Tales of the Genetic Revolution"

There is also a story in there with a title referencing Usher, and one about furniture.

Publication date is 1991 so that's a match too.

I have not seen a Portuguese edition or a black cover so those may be negative indications.

Take a look at the table of contents and see what you think. I have only read the one story, so I'm guessing a bit here.

  • 1
    I found this capsule description of the story "A Career in Sexual Chemistry" which is the 2nd story in the collection: "Giovanni Cassanova, a rather unattractive man, is a genetic genius. He creates a protein to be secreted by sweat glands that turns on the opposite sex. He uses it to gain lovers. Once his secret escapes, he is in multiple legal and love troubles." That sounds like another match. – DavidW Apr 9 at 15:51
  • The alternate cover might be closer: ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71Aj8XFrbIL.jpg – DavidW Apr 9 at 16:01
  • @DavidW Thank you for the additional info! – Organic Marble Apr 10 at 1:05
  • 1
    That is it, thank you very much. Have been searching for this for a while now. The portuguese indication was for completion sake, I don´t mind, even prefer, reading it in english. Thanks a lot Guys & Galls & Others – Ormazd Apr 10 at 10:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.