A note to be made to any potential readers regarding the accessibility of this book is that there are two areas in which some background is extremely helpful: critical theory (certain terms and concepts) and Sandra Harding's idea of strong objectivity, which is used, in Haraway's altered form, as a central concept in the book. Neither critical theory terminology nor strong objectivity is explained in enough depth for a reader unfamiliar with them to understand well, and, in the case of the latter, have a strong enough grasp to consider crucial differences in the approaches of Harding and Haraway.
Haraway's stated purpose of the book is that it is an "exercise regime and self-help manual for how not to be literal-minded, while engaging promiscuously in serious moral and political inquiry (...). I also want [readers] to have a good time. Comedy is both object of attention and method" (15). There is a certain tension throughout the book resulting from her dual commitment to the non-literal and playful and to the very serious. Her way of delving deeply into the adventures and symbolic meaning of fictional characters to use them to illustrate her points and her penchant for word-play are rather distracting, and frequently detract from the substance and clarity of her arguments. Additionally, the content of Haraway's book is enmeshed in a perhaps altogether unnecessarily elaborate format, for example, with sections of the book intended to correspond with parts of the study of semiotics.
Yet, Haraway's main argument concerning technoscience, that there is a need to create what has been called a politicoscientific community based on participatory democratic structures, is well supported by her numerous and thought-provoking inquiries into who the actors in technoscience are, who is benefiting, who is suffering, etc. She offers effective criticism of conventional scientific (weak) objectivity, which is grounded in an ideal of the scientist as neutral or value-free, and seeks to build a strong objectivity that will bring into focus the interests and contributions of humans and non-humans who remain unseen or unheard in technoscientific development and practice. I cannot help but wonder, however, why a book intending to promote participatory democratic involvement has been written in so complex a manner that it is inaccessible to countless numbers of people.
I have two main reservations about what Haraway writes. First, she is using her own version of Harding's strong objectivity, which differs in important ways from the original concept. Haraway attempts to generate knowledge from the perspectives of both fictional characters, ones from paintings and ones that Haraway helps invent, and non-humans, and this is much out of keeping with Harding's approach and yet no implications of the altered meaning of this key concept are discussed. Second, Haraway has a clear bias toward, even a romanticization of, certain technoscientific feats like putting fish genes in tomatoes. While she makes no attempts to conceal this bias, I do think it influences her too-quick dismissal of activists working against such human tinkering, as she claims she "cannot hear discussion of disharmonious crosses among organic beings and of implanted alien genes without hearing a racially inflected and xenophobic symphony" (62). The activists to which she is referring simply deserve more credit than this.