1. says

    The Boys From Brazil dodges the cloning question by making the plot that is doomed to fail a consequence of nazi stupidity about genetics.

    CJ Cherryh’s Cyteen is a lengthy and interesting treatment of cloning.

  2. PaulBC says

    I really liked the Lost in Space episode where they made all those copies of Dr. Smith with (if memory serves) some kind of cake-batter-like substance. Not great science, but for discount-store surrealism, it was brilliant. (I should probably leave my childhood memories intact by never trying to watch it again.)

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    Bad science in movies! Say it ain’t so! Oh wait. There’s always been bad science in movies. And novels. And short stories. FTL? Time travel? Instantaneous communication? It’s almost as though the science wasn’t even the main point.

  4. PaulBC says

    @5 This is way off topic, but I would make the distinction between bad science and not even trying. Orson Scott Card’s Ender series starts out OK, but in the final book (or final one I read) they are basically getting to other planets by sitting in a refrigerator box and wishing themselves there. Arguably, the space travel wasn’t his point, and such points he had were fairly repellant I think. But am I the only one who thought: he’s not even trying at this point?

    Meanwhile, Lost in Space was a brilliant ensemble performance covering the mysteries of space and time. At least I will always remember it so.

  5. says

    The reality of cloning is it just takes too damn long to make a good story. You don’t want to wait two or three decades to get your clone. That’s boooooorrrrring.
    Famously, someone asked Gene Roddenberry how fast the USS Enterprise went. His response “The starships travel at the Speed of Plot”. Hollywood will never allow science to slow down the story.

  6. PaulBC says

    @7 I think it’s been handled OK, for instance, if a little boringly by Arthur C. Clarke in Imperial Earth, and I’m not sure about Dune (Duncan Idaho; could they get a new one fast or did they keep a pipeline going?). Even Star Wars seemed to get the point that the clones need to grow up.

    To make it work in the plot, you just have to fast-forward through the normal growth phases (old important person anticipated the need and has been growing and grooming the clone for 20 years–told through a short flashback). It’s also not totally crazy to assume some magic acceleration technology as long as it’s not instantaneous, like maybe 5x growth to maturity. They’re still just identical twins, so you need some other magic if you want duplicates with your memories.

    Hell, the Federalist Society managed to clone an entire new Supreme Court in the lab starting around 1985 that has only just matured. I mean, if they can play the long game in real life, why not a science fiction hero/villain?

  7. wzrd1 says

    About the only film that came even semi-close to reality with cloning was Aeon Flux, where the “original”ish clone trained the replacement clone from birth.
    And that was rubbish, as common experiences would be missed, changing the copy’s fidelity to the original personality.

    Still, Hollywood tends to hire science advisors, purely for the purpose of ignoring their advice. The prevailing view, as near as I can tell is, “science is boring!”, bullshit antics ensue.
    John Q. sees that drivel and thinks that CSI’s can pull DNA results up in minutes and tricorders are real.

  8. whheydt says

    Somebody my wife knew once had the opportunity to ask a question on a Hollywood set: Given how ppor the results on screen are, what is the purpose of a studio research department?

    The answer was: The research department is to answer one, and only one question, “If we do this, can we be sued?”

  9. microraptor says

    @2: That’s just good advice in general. There really isn’t a level in which that movie didn’t suck.

  10. whheydt says

    Countering my own point above, and if you’ll accept history as at least approaching a science… I know of a film where the director went to great lengths to ensure the correct, historical, appearance of the main character.

    It’s Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky. Eisenstein was able to borrow the actual, original helmet that was worn by the historical Nevsky from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) so that they could make an exact replica for the actor to wear in the film. The rest of the costuming work is also excellent. Not so sure about the helms on the Teutonic knights, though. Another interesting point is how one part of the film was done. He got Prokofiev to write the score and then choreographed the climactic battle on the ice of Lake Neva to match Prokofiev’s music.

  11. John Morales says


    … and then choreographed the climactic battle on the ice of Lake Neva to match Prokofiev’s music.

    So much for historical accuracy, then.

    Re cloning in movies, at least that first one got that cloning results in an embryo, which has then to go through normal developmental processes. Almost always, for plot purposes (as in the second movie), they pop out at the appropriate age (that is, appropriately battered) in hours to days.
    Usually with the appropriate memories and attitudes, too. For the plot!

  12. lotharloo says

    I actually really like Imperial Earth. So the main character is the 2nd clone, his father was the first clone and they were both cloned from the “grandfather”, because the grandfather had turned infertile. But in the story, it is shown that how their personalities are different. There’s a little bit of bullshit here and there, e.g., the 3 have such an amazing ability to communicate that they only need to utter a few words instead of full sentences, supposedly because their minds think the same, but otherwise, it is pretty reasonable. Another thing that I like about the story is that Clarke has tried to imagine the future not only different technologically, but also from the point of view of social norms (e.g., bisexuality is completely normal).

  13. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    not being a biologist, I had little problem with Replicas version of cloning the bodies. They at least threw in some technobabble about speeding up the growth process chemically. My problem was the mindprinting download and upload technology they used to restore his family, with a feature to erase undesired memories at will. That kind of technology being developed to provide immortality to the wealthiest of the wealthy for a 1% fee (of someones net worth of billions) was mind boggling to say the least.

  14. christoph says

    So, if you have yourself cloned, which one of you gets to wear the goatee and be the evil one? The original, or the clone?

  15. PaulBC says

    Another thing that I like about the story is that Clarke has tried to imagine the future not only different technologically, but also from the point of view of social norms (e.g., bisexuality is completely normal).

    True, and this was 45 years ago. Of course, it wasn’t that unusual in science fiction at the time. I actually remember the parts about the pentomino puzzle a little more, though I’m not sure it ages well. There’s really not that much to say about them and a modern computer could run through all solutions, I think, in a matter of milliseconds if not less. Would it really be that engaging?