Pop Culture Advisory: Cloning

Today marks the 17th anniversary of the birth, at Scotland’s Roslin Institute, of the first successfully cloned mammal, a sheep named “6LL3” and then Dolly.  Since then, discussions about cloning have played out in fiction as well as in the news media. Some favorites are below, but further suggestions are always welcome in the comments!

In BBC America’s Orphan Black, which finished its first season recently, street-smart orphan Sarah witnesses the suicide of a woman who could have been her twin. Sarah has recently stolen a large amount of cocaine from her boyfriend, and she’s hoping to fence the drug; the money is supposed to help her start a new life with her daughter. She takes the dead woman’s bag, assumes her identity, and clears out the woman’s bank account, but before she can leave town, Sarah learns that she and the dead woman are two of an unknown number of clones and that someone is killing them off. Tatiana Maslany, who plays all of the clones, just won the Critics’ Choice Award for best actress in a television drama. The DVD set comes out on July 16; the series is available now through iTunes, Amazon streaming, or on demand through some cable companies. If you know me in real life or online, I’ve likely raved about this show to you; whatever hype you’ve heard, I promise it lives up to it.

The Clone Returns Home Director Kanji Nakajima tells the story of Kohei Takahara (Mitsuhiro Oikawa), a young astronaut who’s cloned after he’s killed during a space mission. After the clone’s memory regresses to Kohei’s youth and the accidental death of his twin brother, it travels to the countryside and makes an unexpected discovery.

Jurassic Park Both Michael Crichton’s novel and Steven Spielberg’s film about a theme park where visitors can observe cloned dinosaurs are well worth checking out.

Battlestar Galactica In the recent reboot of the classic series,13 Cylon models that look—and feel—like human beings infiltrate the dwindling society of survivors. Viewers know how many human-looking Cylons there are very early on, but their identities are revealed (with maximum drama, generally speaking) over the full arc of the series.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (and its film adaptation starring Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan) follows three students at Hailsham, an English boarding school. The children are carefully sheltered from the outside world and frequently assured that they are special, which turns out to be true, but not for the reasons they’ve been told. 

The Bones of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan is set in Hawaii in 2034 and is one of the few books or films to portray humans cloning in a positive light, focusing on the attempt to re-create genius for the benefit of humanity.

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Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.