On Hiatus

I'm taking a short break from the internet for August, so this blog will be a little quiet for the rest of the month and into the first week of September. In the meantime, there are scheduled posts going up every Wednesday at my cosplay blog - The Intergalactic Seamstress - and at the review blog Critique de Book, plus the odd up to date post at Spacefreighters Lounge on a Tuesday (or you can find my fellow crew mates posting Monday-Friday). See you when September comes! 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Is A Clone Your Sibling Or Your Child?

Image by Danielle Fine
I've been working on a science fiction romance titled Tethered, a story that sprang on me Christmas Day after a discussion with friends about underused mythical creatures and the potential use in scifi. Yeah, that's a typical conversation for me. :-P I nicknamed Tethered my 'succubi' story, not realizing succubi have in fact been well used in speculative fiction. I hadn't seen or read any, and once the idea jumped me I couldn't leave it alone.

Ten months down the line, and I felt the need for some feedback on the completed draft. I had three issues that I wanted an opinion on, so two willing victims beta readers volunteered to read it through. (A huge thank you to Chantal Halpin and Gayle Ramage for their comments!) And one raised an interesting question. The main character in the story is Tyree, an assassin bred and trained for the role. Her entire society is cloned. Their council holds thirteen members, who each produce a batch of clones (male and female, and yes, that is genetically possible) from themselves at regular intervals, which they then bring up but in more of a teaching role rather than a traditional parental role - ie there's no affection or closeness of any kind. The clones are all empathic, so a mutual sharing of each other's presence is judged sufficient for their emotional welfare. So how would these clones view each other? As siblings, even including the original clone from which they came despite the generation gap? As children of the originating clone? Or as something else entirely?

I tried researching the subject with mixed results. Some referred to the clone as 'offspring'. Others as the equivalent of an identical twin, albeit with an age gap. I even raised the question in the SFR Brigade group and got a very varied result. Despite the biological implications, the idea that it was the role the original clone took to its younger self that seemed to define some perceptions.

So I looked at how I'd portrayed the society. The council members are referred to as Mother or Father but in a purely honorific fashion, more like a monastic community. They instruct and reprimand the group of clones that they generate. The clones in each batch refer to one another as brother or sister, although never formally or out loud. In Tethered, Tyree has been assigned to take the place of a flawed replica - an identical clone from her batch - and she considers the lost clone as her twin sister. So if they see each other in those roles, then perhaps the actual biology isn't so important?

But what about further relationships? If, for example, council member A cloned themselves and raised clone B as their child, and then clone B produced a clone - C. Would C regard itself as the grandchild of A? A third generation offspring is a grandchild, so would a third generation clone be the same if the roles of parent and child are well established? Or would clone A still be the 'parent' of B and C? In Star Wars - The Clone Wars, entire armies are cloned from one biological source - Jango Fett. And yet he asks for one modified clone that he raises as a son. How does he see all the others? We never find out.

My main problem is that I can't describe the exact situation that's causing the issue in the story without giving a major plot twist away. So it seems the best bet is to go with what my character would think. How she perceives herself in relation to the other clones. Perhaps someone more adept at the science of cloning will be able to put me right on interclone relationships. Perhaps we need a whole new set of terms. :)

What do you think? If you were cloned from someone, how would you see them? As a parent or sibling? How much difference would the age gap make to your perception?


  1. In my clone story, I dealt with the same issue. Though mine were considered property, they saw the person who donated their DNA as their parent, and the other clones with their same DNA as their siblings. I think in the case of fiction, it's a matter of perception. Unless you are telling the story from the scientist's POV.

    1. Thanks, Jessica. Yes, I think regardless of the biological link it depends how one treats the others in the group.y main character sees the older clones as parental, so I guess some of the perception is also age related.

  2. Cloning comes in two forms: reproductive cloning, and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning is what most people think of first. This is when an egg cell is transplanted into a uterus in order for the mother to give birth to an identical genetic match of the original egg donor. This is not like cloning in the science fiction sense where adult humans are duplicated in an assembly line fashion. It is a slow process, and to the naked eye there is little difference between this type of cloning and a natural birth. The cloning takes place at the genetic level, but otherwise, the birth is delivered in the typical fashion.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Rosa, and clarifying that point. That could be another factor in deciding relationships. :)

  3. I have a WIP which focuses on clones so I read this with interest. I think it may depend on how they were brought up and what the set up is. For example if you are a clone of someone a generation above you, even if you may consider yourself a sibling, if they have had an authoritarian role you'd more likely think of them as a parental type figure? Interesting question!

  4. Thanks, VikLit. Yep, it seems most feel it's what role the clone takes in relation to the others.


I always love to hear your thoughts.