Cloning: More Than Just a Way to Duplicate Sheep

Cloning is very prevalent in our media today, not only in fiction, but in the news. Scientists are getting closer and closer to the techniques that were once considered Mad Science (and by some still is), and it seems every day we are getting closer to the sort of feats described in Brave New World and many other classics, who see it simultaneously as a wonder and a horror of the future.

Well, while I think using clones as a plot device is sort of cheating in most cases (Ha! You didn’t kill me, that was my CLONE!), there are a few other uses that may be a good way of adding to your science fiction world without making it into a grotesque centerpiece to your plot. I might expand this into a more thorough examination of the theme as it occurs in science fiction (Science Fiction Problems!) , but for now, here are some ways you can safely add cloning to your story without breaking it.

Drug-sniffing Dogs and Various Other Animal Conveniences

Here’s a fun and cute application of Mad Science for you- puppies! Well, actually, the intent in this experiment was not to replicate adorable pets, but to recreate the expert sniffer of a particularly adept K9 named Chase. Byeong-Chun Lee of Seoul National University performed a procedure called “Artificial Asexual Propagation” on an egg which was implanted with Chase’s DNA, creating a large number of cloned cells that were then meticulously handled until 4 finally survived, were born via surrogate mother, grew up, and were darn good sniffers. This was all to prove that desirable traits in an animal can replicated in clones, and according to his research, it seems to be true.

cloned beef hotdogs comic

I almost wish they would label them cloned, just because I would be curious as to whether or not I could taste the difference...

Apocalyptic notions of clone armies and tyrannical eugenics aside, this technique could be very useful in propagating better animal traits, augmenting current breeding techniques. If there’s a particularly good specimen of beef cow, for instance, you could clone it and breed the clones to more easily spread the good genes, helping with the gene pool problems currently in the industry. We actually already eat cloned beef and other meats as a part of the normal stock (The FDA approved the unlabeled sale of cloned beef in 2006), so there’s already some useful applications today.

This sort of cloning practice could be used to replicate endangered species, resurrect some extinct ones, and replicate desirable traits in pets, where if mixed with some good ‘ol genetic engineering, could become a major market for a futuristic society. Maybe citizens living in such a world could go down to the store and pick up the same model of schnauzer as their neighbor, or pick up a dog cloned for his impeccable guarding instincts.

Additionally, as seen in the movie The Sixth Day (2000, which admittedly got a rotten rating of 40% on in spite of its very interesting premise), pets could be cloned after death given that the right samples were preserved, enabling mourning owners to buy a brand new copy of Fido, good as new.

the 6th day movie poster

Pretty typical Schwarzenegger movie, but I liked the tech ideas...

As long as it stays out of the realm of human cloning (perhaps it’s still too controversial or the technology just isn’t there yet), you won’t have to deal with the plot problems associated with it. Be warned, however- the further you go, the more important it becomes. If you decide to make cloning a large part of your story world, it will be hard to explain why human cloning doesn’t exist at least as a black market.

So, to conclude- as long as you don’t overdo it and can come up with a convincing reason why they don’t do it to humans, you can add cloning to your story without it overwhelming your plot.

Until next week, does anyone else get tired of supposedly dead villains (or heroes) popping out of no where with the shocking revelation that it was a clone all along? Anyone seen a good use of clones that wasn’t the center of the plot?


About erikthereddest

I'm a Masters student in English, and I love technology and Science Fiction. I am refining and enhancing my (admittedly novice) writing talents under the sage advice of my friends here at Lantern Hollow Press, and with the great many books I am reading from the best authors I can find.

Posted on October 5, 2011, in Cliches, Erik Marsh, Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, World Creation, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I actually heard that some Asian scientists were trying to cloning mamoths from frozen mamoth DNA.

  2. Some common misconceptions (especially in Hollywood) that you may want to address (and I’m sure you can come up with a few more):
    Clones aren’t the same age as the original, not unless you cloned them from unborn babies. That clone of Fido you just bought is going to come back as a puppy, not a 3 year old dog. That may be fine, but it needs comment.
    Clones are only identical to the original in a genetic sense. Chemical exposure, diet, training, exercise, etc. will all amount to differences between a mature original and a mature clone. Chase may have been a darn good sniffer, but what if that was only partially genetic? What if having a particular diet at a particular age allowed for that better nose to develop right? Will the clone get the same diet? And, of course, the clone will NEED the same training. More importantly, that means that the common Hollywood plot of a clone replacing a person is BS. Even identical twins by the time they’re 30 usually look no better than similar. If your clone is quick-aged in a vat, while you’ve lived a life of work, leisure, sun, no sun, lots of foods, not enough foods, accidents, fears, joys, surgeries, etc. all of those will impact differences in how the two look, and not just a tell-tale scar, but how wide your shoulders are, how smooth your skin is, your complexion, etc.

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