S is for Slote: Cloning for Kids

Speare, Stoltz, Seredy, Keatley Snyder, Streitfeild, Sutcliff: S was a difficult author to choose.

I settled on Alfred Slote who wrote one of my favorite (and first) sci-fi reads, Clone Catcher.

Told from the point of view of a clone catcher, the slim novel narrates the investigation of Arthur Dunn, who is commissioned to chase down the clone of a wealthy businessman. Dunn is portrayed as a Bogart-type P.I. with slightly less angst and no bad addictions. But he is wry and skeptical with a detective's instincts (my favorite books, even as a youngster, always circled back to mysteries!).

The future--which takes place in 2019--involves the creation of clones as walking, talking, breathing, thinking extra body parts for their originals. And yes, it is totally unlikely. Should cloning reach such a stage (amazing how all these scientific advancements have occurred without our noticing!), there would be zero need to produce sentient people who would then need to be fed and housed, protected and guarded. The organs could be stored in containers. Or the cloning material could be stored until the organs needed to be produced.

What interests me more is how contemporary attitudes changed to reflect the end of the book: clones deserve rights. When Star Trek: TNG tackled clones in the 1989 episode "Up the Long Ladder," the clones were treated as, well, a collection of body parts. Riker is offended that his genetic material might be used and everyone assumes that another "him" would be destroyed if he so wished it.
Bashir watching the clone grow.

Only 4 years later in real time (1993), a man who kills his own clone on Deep Space Nine is accused of the legal crime of murder while the remaining clone is treated as a fully independent being with rights.

In other words, as the science progressed--cloning becoming more and more of a possibility--the ethical treatment of hypothetical human clones advanced.

Slote should be given credit: he tackled these issues for kids in 1982.

Ethics aside, Clone Catcher is a good story with well-dropped hints/clues and a riveting climax. It isn't always easy to track down; it is worth the effort. 
Slote should be applauded for producing
three strong female characters, any one
of which could have been played
by Lauren Bacall.

1 comment:

FreeLiveFree said...

The clones as deserving of human rights was also used in the 70s movie Parts: The Clonus Horror. Of course, the movie was so bad it is only known for being used on Mystery Science Theatre 3000