Clone

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Gina Kolata, science journalist for THE NEW YORK TIMES, broke the initial story about the cloning of a sheep named Dolly. On the scene in the Scottish hamlet where embryologist Ian Wilmut had performed this extraordinary feat, Kolata reported extensively on Dolly for her newspaper. CLONE: THE ROAD TO DOLLY AND THE PATH AHEAD presents an extended account of this event along with a truncated history of embryology and an overview of the many fraudulent claims made in the past about cloning.

The thought that immediately leaped into people’s minds with the cloning of Dolly was that science was now only a short step from cloning human beings. The religious, philosophical, bioethical, and economic dilemmas that such a possibility posed resulted in heated debate about cloning, a debate heightened by physicist Richard Seed’s attempt to secure private funding to clone a human being, threatening if he could not do so in the United States to go to another country more hospitable to his project.

In Washington, the Federal Food and Drug Administration asserted its authority over human cloning. Congress moved toward enacting legislation to ban it. President Bill Clinton declared himself a staunch opponent of this seemingly unnatural process. For many people, Huxley’s brave new world had suddenly arrived, replete with all its frightening implications.

Kolata’s book is readable and easily understood by people lacking a background in biotechnology. Her research is extensive and accurately presented. Her arguments are cogent, objective, and balanced. This first book on the cloning of Dolly is a commendable beginning. Other books on the subject will follow but few more enticing than Kolata’s.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XCIV, December 1, 1997, p. 596.

Business Week. February 2, 1998, p. 16.

Issues in Science and Technology. XIV, Spring, 1998, p. 90.

Library Journal. CXXII, November 15, 1997, p. 73.

Natural History. CVII, September, 1998, p. 11.

The New England Journal of Medicine. CCCXXXIX, July 9, 1998, p. 134.

New Scientist. CLVI, November 29, 1997, p. 52.

The New York Review of Books. XLV, April 23, 1998, p. 14.

The New York Times Book Review. CIII, December 28, 1997, p. 7.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIV, November 3, 1997, p. 69.