Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: Your face

This week, Futures is delighted to welcome back Grace Tang with her story Your face. Regular readers will remember Grace’s earlier pieces, which included Okami, Time heals all wounds, Ghost in the machine, White lies and Man’s best friend. You can find out more about what Grace is up to by following her on Twitter. Here, she reveals the inspiration for her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing Your face

My inspiration for this story came amid the flurry of excitement (and accompanying paranoia) around being able to reconstruct faces using nothing but DNA.

Although our current ability to do so has, as usual, been blown way out of proportion by mainstream media, I wondered what we’d do with this power once we actually wielded it. I imagine we’d first get important things out of the way, like finding out what Jesus really looked like. But once DNA facial reconstruction got to the point where it was commonplace, like today’s direct-to-consumer genetic test kits, what would we use it for? How would it be abused? What kinds of genetic crimes could be committed if people could not only steal your genetic information, but also steal your face?

Another element in the story — the rarity of the victim’s green eyes — was inspired by another piece of genetics news, that light-coloured eyes are becoming less common. I grew up surrounded by people with eyes and hair that were uniformly dark brown to black, so moving to the United States and encountering people with light-coloured eyes and hair up close was like seeing a unicorn in real life for the first time. As the world becomes a smaller place, and eye pigment proteins mix together like dark paint poured into tins of pastels and golds, I wonder how soon light eyes will indeed become a rare, near-mythical phenomenon.



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