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Promising GenomicsIceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation$
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Michael Fortun and Roberto Reis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247505

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247505.001.0001

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(p.70) Ch 7 HistoryXFable
Promising Genomics

Mike Fortun

University of California Press

In the deCODE mass media stories, no one leveraged the saga effect better than Robert Kunzig in his December 1998 piece in Discover, “Blood of the Vikings.” The issue was on U.S. newsstands as the Althingi sped and slogged to its final vote on the Health Sector Database legislation. There is no question that deCODE Genetics, genomics, the 1990s, and Iceland are all subject to the laws of fable, even if such laws should turn out to be unruly, unwritten, or unreadable. Speculation is surely one element of the unruly laws of fable. It involutes a future into the present, complementing the mythic foldings of past into present, generating anticipation; the excitement, thrill, and risk of awaiting the arrival of what might, or might not, come. Ever slow on the uptake, the author learned about how fable crosses with history not from the deCODE events themselves, but from the fable of another expat who returned to Iceland at the same time as deCODE Genetics CEO Kári Stefánsson: Keiko the killer whale, a.k.a. Free Willy.

Keywords:   Robert Kunzig, deCODE Genetics, Kári Stefánsson, killer whale, history, fable, saga effect, Health Sector Database, genomics, Iceland

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