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The Epic

(Also known as The Epic Saga of how the Brave Members of the Illuminati Defeated the Second Sorcerer of Synthetic Biology’s Insidious Attempt to Invade and Destroy the City of Edinburgh)

This particular aspect to the human BRIDGEs branch of our project was conceived in late July, on the train home from the UK-wide meet-up. One of the talks earlier that morning had been regarding the pervasiveness of human aspects throughout synthetic biology, and of the various different manners in which this could be conveyed to the public: not only via scientific literature and presentations, but also via more accessible methods such as plays, music, stories, and so forth. This got some of the more literary-minded members of our team thinking... what if we were to write a short story on synthetic biology?

In that moment of madness, The Epic was born.

We had great fun coming up with and writing this story! We also were amazed at how it forced us to consider ourselves and our work from a different, perhaps more objective perspective, in an attempt to write in such a way as to reach out to as many readers as possible. Our efforts were boosted by workshops by writers Pippa Goldschmidt and Ken MacLeod from the Genomics Forum, in which we explored the portrayal of science in fiction as well as public engagement in scientific work through the use of writing.

Below, we have posted a rough draft of the first act of the story, to whet the possible appetite of our readers for more.

A few disclaimers that must be made before proceeding any further:

  • Yes, we did intend this to be at first a short story. Unfortunately, in between waiting for simulations to complete and cultures to grow, it kind of... expanded... on us.
  • No, this was not simply an excuse for us to gain superpowers.
  • Yes, there is (plans for) actual science within the story, as well as an interesting look at conflicting ideals within the field of Synthetic Biology, the issues that it faces today (safety, security, legality, etc.), and the challenges that it may come across in the future.
  • No, we don't want to end it in just one tale. There are plans for sequels in the works, and at least one member of our team won't be satisfied with anything less than a quadrilogy (or, technically, a tetralogy).
  • Yes, we are interested in a film adaptation. Any takers?



The voice echoed ominously across the night-darkened seas, resounding like peals of blasphemous thunder from the deck of the cruising yacht moored dangerously close to the rocky shoreline. The Jac *Governer* Hint was an unassuming vessel of whitewashed fibreglass and luxuriously smoothed teak, but the figure that stood like a proud figurehead upon its very prow was altogether far more sinister.


The scenery shuddered violently with every shouted syllable, twisting and warping in tune to the cacophonous crescendo. Gale-force winds whipped and howled in sustained fury, while the fragile yacht tossed and turned at the mercy of the crashing waves. Heavy grey clouds roiled like undulating serpents overhead, driven as pack-beasts before the lash towards the sheer heather-lined bluffs upon the shoreline and the rolling hills that lay beyond.

A thousand warriors clad in tartan kilt and plaid met them there, bellowing battlecries to the encroaching sky. Long of hair and muscled of body, armed with broadsword and dirk, claymore and halberd, the massed clans gathered once again to repel those invaders that dared to threaten their highland home. Over the long years they had successfully defended themselves against all comers, against the Vikings of ancient times and the English of the Middle Ages, the Spanish Armada and the French Napoleon, and more recently Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

But it was no mere warcraft, not even base magic, that the sorcerous figure wrought. It was something else entirely.

It was synthetic biology...

The Rest of the Story

Part I of The Epic is now ready for your perusal as a GoogleDoc, a pdf, or in the embedded frame below.

Throughout this wiki there are words in bold that indicate a relevance to human aspects. It will become obvious that human aspects are a part of almost everything in iGEM.