Academic journal article Hecate

From the Last Clone

Academic journal article Hecate

From the Last Clone

Article excerpt

I have been jolted by the events of September 11, in particular the reactions and the aftermath in the West, into focussing on possible future directions of the world. This is why I am no longer interested in writing historical novels as I have done in the past (although, of course, history is present in the future).

The Last Clone is set three generations into the future, in a place called The Homeland. This is a post-democratic world, constantly at war with a vaguely-defined terrorist threat. The slogan of the Homeland government is: The Terror Will Always Be With Us.

Citizens have willingly surrendered their civil rights because of on-going and ill-defined security threats in this post-democratic world. To be declared to have terrorist links is a death sentence.

An experimental clone generation has proven to be an abject failure -- only a few survive. Now, parents prefer genetically manipulated transgenic children, selected from shopping catalogues. As everywhere, however, resistance exists. We meet a group of artistes, freethinkers, mystics, and others not totally in thrall to the prevailing ethos that security and making money are the highest good.

Today, there is a festival in an old castle on the edge of The Homeland, to celebrate July 22nd, the Feast of Mary Magdalene, The Black Madonna of the Church of Amor. This heretical tradition is continued by Perilla, the charismatic, breatharian, Tarot-reading leader of the castle. She is linked by cloning to an ancient sect, the Cathars, and to Mary Magdalene herself. She is the last surviving member of the ill-fated cloned generation.

On this special feast night, storytellers and musicians compete for an elusive prize, awarded by Perilla. But in the midst of the festivities at the castle, Perilla disappears, apparently without trace. What has happened to her?

A quest is thus set in place, led by Hildegard, the psychic detective. A quest which reveals that the adored Perilla, famed for her Tarot readings and rumoured to be in possession of magic powers, has a dark past-linking her to the terrorist groups who are the declared enemies of the state.

Bull Janus muses about clones and stuff

`Better to be a clone, that's for sure,' muttered Bull Janus to himself, as he settled back into the beanbag. He loaded his mouth with jelly snakes, then started clicking through the 264 channels on the giant wallscreen. He sighed, his eyes glazing over. At least clones got sympathy. And so many benefits. Why didn't people see that transgenics like himself and Amber were just as oppressed as clones had once been?

Clones had had it made -- the few who still survived any way. Everyone knew about the concessions won by the Clone Liberation Front. About the coalition of attorneys formed to represent the clones' interests. Gratis. Laws passed outlawing the continued use of clones in medical research. And clones housed in laboratories had been compulsorily retired to comfortable housing sanctuaries, with free medical. Here, behind high walls, they were protected from the paparazzi keen to get the latest freaky shot.

The Boy Who Aged to 80 in 15 years.

The Girl Who Gave Birth at Four Years Old.

The Woman Without a Spine.

The Eight Year Old Embryo.

And so on.

Freaky Clones Side Shows had of course long been outlawed, but this had merely pushed the trade underground and inflated the entrance tickets. Wages for the clones had spiralled since the formation of the CLF (not that there was anything wrong with that...). Everyone Bull knew had gone at least once to see the sideshow, even though it was at your own risk. No one would insure the punters, for it was common knowledge that certain clones had been infected at birth with diseases of interest to the military (research purposes only) and that, logically, clones must still carry these biohazards.

Bull had never been to a Freaky Clone Show, not because of that risk, but because he felt that clones didn't deserve any more attention. …

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