Sympathy for the Clone: (Post)Human Identities Enhanced by the ‘Evil Science’ Construct and its Commodifying Practices in Contemporary Clone Fiction

Jimena Escudero Pérez


The manipulation of human DNA in the form of eugenic pursuit, cloning, genetic engineering etc., has become a well-established subject in science fiction for decades now. In our days, this thematic trend is probably the most prolific one when inspiring narratives in popular culture and also constitutes the source of much bioethical debate. A common pattern derived from these practices is that they generate dystopian scenarios where a community is oppressed and abused by scientific means thus portraying science and its agents as evil. In the case of clone fiction, the focus of this article, the inhumanity of the oppressive powers enhances the questioned humanity of the clones, a particularly complex and evolving type of character that is often commodified. This paper analyses the "evil science" construction and the semiotics of the human/clone identity it produces as displayed in the cases of Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005), The Island (Dir. Michael Bay, USA, 2005), Moon (Dir. Duncan Jones, UK, 2009) and the TV series Orphan Black (created by Graeme Manson & John Fawcett, Canada, 2013–). The cited examples provide references for typified patterns as well as for the development of both the clone figure and the scientific evilness component.


clone; science fiction; identity; posthuman; evil

Full Text:



Battaglia, Debbora. "Multiplicities: An anthropologist's thoughts on replicants and clones in popular film", Critical inquiry, 27.3 (2001): 493-514.

Cormick, Craig. "Cloning goes to the movies", História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos, 13 (2006): 181-212.

Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene, New York, Oxford University Press, 2006.

Foucault, Michel, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France 1977--1978, Vol. 4, Eds. Michel Senellart, François Ewald, and Alessandro Fontana, New York, Macmillan, 2009.

Griffin, Gabriele. "Science and the cultural imaginary: the case of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go", Textual Practice, 23.4 (2009): 645-663.

Hables Gray, Chris. “Homo Cyborg: Fifty Years Old”, Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 8.1 (2011): 83-104.

Haraway, Donna J., Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, New York, Routledge, 1991.

Hayles, K., How we Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Ishiguro, Kazuo, Never let me go, London, Faber and Faber Limited, 2005.

Kass, Leon R. "Wisdom of repugnance: why we should ban the cloning of humans, the", Val. UL Rev., 32 (1997): 679.

Kirby, David A. "The devil in our DNA: a brief history of eugenics in science fiction films", Literature and medicine, 26.1 (2007): 83-108.

Kitzinger, Jenny, et al. "Media coverage of the ethical and social implications of human genetic research", Sociology of Health and Illness, 25.1 (2002): 24-49.

Kitzinger, Jenny. "Questioning the sci‐fi alibi: a critique of how ‘science fiction fears’ are used to explain away public concerns about risk", Journal of Risk Research, 13.1 (2010): 73-86.

Levin, Ira, The boys from Brazil, London, Corsair, 2011.

Levin, Ira, The Stepford Wives: Introduction by Chuck Palanhiuk, London, Constable & Robinson, 2011.

Marcus, Amit, "Telling the Difference: Clones, Doubles and What’s in Between", Connotations, 21.2-3 (2011/2012): 363-96.

Rank, Otto, The Double, NC, The University of North Carolina Press, 1971.

Schwartz, Hillel, The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles, New York, Zone Books, 1996.

Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein, London, Penguin Books, 1994.

Slonczewski, Joan, and Michael Levy, "Science fiction and the life sciences", James, Edward, and Farah Mendlesohn, eds. The Cambridge companion to science fiction. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003: 174-185.

Stoate, Robin. "‘We’re not programmed, we’re people’: Figuring the caring computer", Feminist Theory, 13.2 (2012): 197-211.


Never let me go (Dir. Mark Romanek, UK, 2010)

The Island (Dir. Michael Bay, USA, 2005)

Moon (Dir. Duncan Jones, UK, 2009)

The Stepford Wives (Dir. Bryan Forbes, USA, 1975)

The Boys from Brazil (Dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, USA/UK, 1978)

Blade Runner (Dir. Ridley Scott, USA, 1982)

Orphan Black (created by Graeme Manson & John Fawcett, Canada, 2013–)



Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


Between is published by the University of Cagliari - Maintenance for this OJS installation is provided by UniCA Open Journals, hosted by Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo.

Between Journal was founded in 2011 with the financial contribution of Fondazione Banco di Sardegna (years 2010-2011).

ISSN 2039-6597 

CC-By lockssDOAJ seal SPARC Europe