Cloning, producing genetically identical copies of a biological entity, is occurring in laboratories all across the world. We clone segments of DNA and embryonic stem cells for research in order to one day treat and cure disease. Reproductive cloning of animals not only has implications in the scientific world, but is also being done for profit. Viagen Pets can clone your favorite pet for $50,000! And, there are several hundred cloned horses in the sport of polo.
So, when I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, Never Let Me Go, it is with the knowledge that while the genre is science fiction, the fact of human cloning is scientifically plausible. The ethical concerns are many, but this book does a great job of creating a world where ethics be damned and clones are used for the sole purpose of supplying parts for their non cloned predecessors. The premise seems outrageous, but is it? We also have illegal organ trafficking in our world today. Yes, it is illegal for you to sell your kidney. But, if you want to buy one on the black market, you’ll pay $25,000 to $100,000. And, if you are selling, you’ll get a measly $1000 to $10,000. There are also criminal networks engaged in kidnapping and harvesting of organs. And, cloning can certainly happen, just watch a polo match.
I’m not really into the science fiction genre, but when the fiction is so close to a possible reality, it is thought provoking. The issues are real. The science exists. Dehumanization of groups to justify abuse is not exactly new territory. This novel shows how easy it is to create a world inside of a world where one group “serves” another. Science fiction, for now.