Cloned Lives Critical Essays

Pamela Sargent


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Cloned Lives is one of a considerable number of science-fictional thought experiments addressing the question of how human clones would relate to one another and to their “parent.” Many of the others hypothesize telepathic linkages among the individuals concerned or have plots contrived around astonishing coincidences of genetic determinism. Cloned Lives is outstanding in terms of both its rational plausibility and its psychological sensitivity. The author’s training in biology is put to effective use, not only in terms of the novel’s argumentative rigor but also in providing a solid platform for adventurous speculation.

The hallmarks of Pamela Sargent’s work have always included a scrupulous sensitivity to detail and a refusal to employ melodramatic tactics in designing her plots. She is able to find ample drama in the kind of everyday crises that people meet as a matter of course and inevitably will continue to meet in an ever changing future. Use of this form of drama has denied her the kind of audience that delights in imaginative pyrotechnics, but it has allowed her the rare accomplishment of writing future-set novels that command belief and interest as authoritatively as the best contemporary fiction.

Cloned Lives is by no means a modest book in terms of its inventions, but it remains beautifully convincing in interweaving the moral dilemmas and psychological problems of a special group of social...

(The entire section is 428 words.)