Comics: science fiction, medicine & comics combine for Fever Medicine

Published On December 3, 2013 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Conventions and events, News

Doctor Shawn Harmon of the J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law at the University of Edinburgh lets us know about his very interesting-sounding Fever Medicine. Of course we are no strangers here to comics being utilised to explore medical issues, both from the point of view of medical professional and from patients, but Fever Medicine looks to explore some fascinating ethical questions about the positive and negative impacts of certain new medical/technological advances, questions about the access to those high-tech medical developments, worries over potential dual-uses, protection of data, the commercialisation of healthcare and other very important topics, topics which, let’s face it, are likely to impinge on all of our lives at some point.

fever medicine shawn harmon cover

Top Scottish science fiction writer and active promoter of making the understanding of science accessible to the public Ken MacLeod introduced me to Shawn and has already had a look at Fever Medicine, which he described as “without a doubt, the best Edinburgh-set near-future cyberpunk tartan noir comic-style-illustrated short novel on medical ethics and public health policy … well, ever. It really is very good. With a vivid, violent and fast-moving plot, interspersed with well-placed boxes of factual information and challenging questions, it’s educational as well as entertaining. The illustrations and graphic design were done by highly talented students at the Edinburgh College of Art, and are a credit to the artists and the college.” And frankly if Ken is saying that then I think it’s well worth commending to our reading attention.

There are a couple of events coming up in Edinburgh in January where you will have a chance to hear more about the work and also to participate in a discussion of some of the points raised:

‘Human Enhancement and Fever Medicine – Launch of an Illustrated Novel’

Where: Pulp Fiction, Bread Street, Edinburgh

When: Friday, 24 January 2014, 19:00-20:00

Shawn Harmon, the author of Fever Medicine, will introduce the genesis of this illustrated novel, followed by a brief reading, and will then invite those present to participate in a dialogue around the ethics of human enhancement. The discussion will be followed by wine and nibbles. Numbers for this event are limited. Free tickets can be obtained through Event Brite. Copies of Fever Medicine can be purchased on the evening.

The University of Edinburgh’s J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law is pleased to announce the following public event:

Title: ‘The Art and Science of Science Communication Through Arts: The Case of Fever Medicine, an Illustrated Novel’

Where: Playfair Library, Old College, University of Edinburgh

When: Monday, 27 January 2014, 18:00-20:00

A panel of experts chaired by Professor Jonathan Gibbs of the Edinburgh College of Art will discuss fiction and the arts in science and law communication. Shawn Harmon, law lecturer and author of Fever Medicine, will speak about the creative process which resulted in Fever Medicine, an illustrated novel that explores a range of legal and bioethical issues in a near-future setting. Award winning Scottish author, Ken McLeod, will talk about the fiction writing process and the science fiction ‘toolkit’. Catherine Southworth, teacher and Communications and Outreach Manager for two EU-funded stem cell research consortia, will discuss science communication and her experience in the development of ‘Hope Beyond Hype’, a comic book format stem cell science teaching tool.

The panel presentation will be followed by an open discussion and thereafter by a wine reception. Numbers for this event are limited. Free tickets can be obtained through Event Brite. Copies of Fever Medicine can be purchased on the evening.

fever medicine shawn harmon 01

Always happy to see two of my favourite things, comics and science fiction, being used to help promote awareness and discussion of real world topics and broadening the understanding of science. I’ve been along to several similar talks which Ken has been involved in which have proved to be fascinating and thought provoking, as well as being an enjoyable social evening of chatting and drinking – plus you should always take any excuse to attend an event in the Playfair Library, just across the road from the Edinburgh FP, it is one of the literary and architectural jewels of Edinburgh.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon is’s chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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