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How To Defeat Your Own Clone by Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson

01/03/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy How To Defeat Your Own Clone in the USA - or Buy How To Defeat Your Own Clone in the UK

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pub: Bantam Books/Random House. 180 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $14.00 (US), $17.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-553-38578-6).

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The title 'How To Defeat Your Own Clone' has an equally lengthy sub-title 'And Other Tips For Surviving The Biotech Revolution'. Both titles do give a quick précis comprehension of what this book is about. However, if you're expecting a totally serious book then you're looking in the wrong place. Both Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson are involved in bio-engineering in their real jobs so know their subject enough to be tongue-in-cheek with no swab for cell samples about cloning. Doing this has made this book informative and chuckle-making at the same time. A good technique if you want to remember something.

This book explores the problem of having a vengeful clone grown to adult-hood and out to get you because it sees you as a threat to its life. You know the subject. It's only there for you to harvest its organs whereas the idea of replacing you seems the better option. It's been used enough times in TV series and films after all. Pragmatically, both authors explore the real life implications as well as the extreme genre possibilities as well as figuratively attacking and killing the myths that have been most exploited in fiction. If you're contemplating writing SF about clones, this last point makes the book a worthwhile read if you want to ensure you don't tread where other writers have gone in the past and duplicate their mistakes or rather, not having up-to-date knowledge. This is largely why lifts or elevators have roof hatches and skyscraper glass is fragile in fiction but not in real life.

Science Fiction writers after all need to be up-to-date and if you can't come up with something new after reading this book then your brain isn't totally in gear on the subject. I've come up with at least one good idea out of the implications they've given.

Not only does this book explore cloning but also enhancements from gene-splicing to drug enhancement so the clone is nearer to being the perfect you that you might get clone envy. It also looks at the difficulties of growing a clone to adulthood without a need for diapers and providing a quick education as being something a little out of our league for a couple centuries yet. If it was possible to mind-flash memories of at least a college education, why go to school? You wouldn't just use it for clones, it would revolutionise normal people's lives, too.

Even if a clone was created of you for the purpose of replacement was possible, there is also a sharp reminder that once the education has stopped, then it would see itself as a separate entity and might not do your plan for you if you're planning some nefarious scheme. Mind you, taking over an already existing life might seem like a good idea.

This book isn't totally perfect as I found a couple errors. Where the 'X-Men' films are concerned, the mutant gene is the DNA sequence that releases the potential for change in the other genes. Literally, the on-off switch they discussed in their chapter on the subject rather than the sole cause. If it wasn't then all mutants would come out with the same powers.

Lee Majors only played Steve Austin, the man who was turned into a cyborg, and wasn't one himself although with his replacement knee joints, he now thinks that's the nearest he will be to becoming one in real life. Method acting tends to restrict amputation and bionic replacement for any TV or film role as going a little too far. Martin Caidin's original book made emphasis that Austin's spine had to be re-enforced, irrespective of his replacement limbs, as lying flat had straightened his spine. Showing all the surgery on a 70s TV pilot would probably have slowed things down.

It's also a bit puzzling why the authors refer to the person mostly likely to be cloned as a 'she'. Nothing sexist about it but it could be an indicator of whom they think is their most likely reader. Men, you have been warned. If you thought one nagging wife was enough, imagine having a pair or more of them.

There points aside, this book is thought-provoking and a delightful and often funny read and giving you a thorough education about the subject of cloning at the same time. I wish all non-fiction books would work as well as this.

GF Willmetts

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