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Old 09-20-2018, 06:27 PM   #91
Catlady
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What point was the author making about sex? It struck me as odd that the teenagers learned about sex and its importance to non-clones, implying that they might someday be interacting with non-clones; and that they engaged in a lot of it casually. What was the relevance?

I also wondered about the inability of the clones to reproduce; animals that are cloned don't have any such limitation, so was he just ignoring science because he didn't know better, or did he want to convey something to the reader?
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:55 PM   #92
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I wondered if they were neutered at a young age or (more likely) it was some form of genetic modification. I can see that it would make sense in a society that thought that way, to ensure that the female clones didn’t have children because of the toll that could have on their bodies.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:03 PM   #93
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<snip> I don't think Kathy ever really understood Ruth all that well. I got the impression that Kathy was a friend of convenience to Ruth - as were all her friends, including Tommy, but Kathy was more reliable (to Ruth) than most. I think Ruth was smart enough that she could have been insightful, but self-interest (in a purely social form) got in the way.
I agree. Kathy seemed to have no understanding of how manipulative Ruth was, and didn't grasp that basically Ruth took (or tried to) everything that Kathy cared about, especially Tommy. I wouldn't give very long odds on Ruth having been the one to steal Kathy's tape, simply because she (Kathy) loved it so much.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:17 PM   #94
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I wondered if they were neutered at a young age or (more likely) it was some form of genetic modification. I can see that it would make sense in a society that thought that way, to ensure that the female clones didn’t have children because of the toll that could have on their bodies.
But if a society want to have a clone population to use for donations, it would be a lot more economical to have the clones mate with each other and reproduce normally, instead of constantly having to create more clones. Even though the offspring aren't actually clones, that doesn't seem like it would make much difference to a society depraved and indifferent enough to create the donor system in the first place.

If I were setting up this dystopia, I'd make one class of clones Breeders, whose job it is to reproduce; and another Donors, whose job it is to donate.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:27 PM   #95
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A society that doesn't class people as fully human probably doesn't want them breeding with "normal" people. And real world science has little to do with the science in this dystopia. Whether a natural result of the program or deliberate doesn't really matter.

This book reminds me somewhat of an academic essay on a narrow topic. The type that starts off with a set of assumptions that are to be presumed true and not questioned for the purposes of that essay. The author in this book concentrates on what he wants to write about with scant regard to anything else.

It seems fairly apparent that this ruined the book for many of us here, but not all of us.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:55 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I also wondered about the inability of the clones to reproduce; animals that are cloned don't have any such limitation, so was he just ignoring science because he didn't know better, or did he want to convey something to the reader?
The author did not intend to make a scientifically realistic world. It is a world that has been imagined in his head, and he has disclosed to the reader that a known condition of this world is that the clones cannot breed. We have to accept that as a fact, and I think it’s a good question to ask what was his intent. I think that he was emphasizing that the clones have a singular purpose to become donors until completion. If they were able to reproduce, and perhaps extend that to create family units, that would give them additional purpose and distraction towards their donation purpose and possibly impact their passivity towards their fate.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:43 PM   #97
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To take the last bit first:
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I also wondered about the inability of the clones to reproduce; animals that are cloned don't have any such limitation, so was he just ignoring science because he didn't know better, or did he want to convey something to the reader?
Early science-fiction about cloning may have presented it as simple copying - lots of little Hitlers running around or whatever - but since then examples abound of cloning being just part of larger genetic engineering project. One obvious example is the book by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, later made in the movie by the same name; in this (in case you haven't seen it) they not only manipulated genes of the creatures they were creating, they also attempted to make certain the animals could never breed.

In Never Let Me Go we don't know whether the sterilisation was genetic or some other mechanism. We must presume it was deliberate on the part of the society, and the author, so the relevant question is not how, but why?

I think there are probably multiple answers, the main ones already touched on: that you don't want clones breeding with non-clones; that you want clones to have only one driving purpose; that breeding can be detrimental to our bodies. I'd also add that the (non-clone) human body is awash with chemicals related to breeding and these chemicals make us emotionally and physically unstable. Remove or reduce such fluctuations and you help to stabilise the person.

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What point was the author making about sex? It struck me as odd that the teenagers learned about sex and its importance to non-clones, implying that they might someday be interacting with non-clones; and that they engaged in a lot of it casually. What was the relevance?
If both sexes of clones are sterile we might wonder whether their sexual activity has the same driving force as non-clones (it would depend on how it was implemented). The use of casual sex, and the emphasis that sex in the outside world was so different and important, may have been something else that sets the clones apart and makes them different from outsiders - and perhaps another reason for outsiders to look at clones with disgust.

Last edited by gmw; 09-20-2018 at 10:49 PM. Reason: adjust layout
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Old 09-20-2018, 11:06 PM   #98
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It doesn't make sense to me. When the author ignores scientific reality--facts so simple and obvious to even a person like me whose scientific background is extremely minimal--he either has to have a story-related reason, or he's too damn lazy to do basic research. I'm not seeing the story-related reason for his departures from reality.

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Old 09-21-2018, 12:34 AM   #99
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It doesn't make sense to me. When the author ignores scientific reality--facts so simple and obvious to even a person like me whose scientific background is extremely minimal--he either has to have a story-related reason, or he's too damn lazy to do basic research. I'm not seeing the story-related reason for his departures from reality.
I think it is just that he was so focused on what he wanted to write that he regarded anything else as unimportant. He had the characters, he had the "story" he wanted to tell and he was just looking for a setting. The problem is that accurate science simply doesn't work for the assumptions he required for the "story". Perhaps he could have made the "story" work with modern science, but he just wasn't interested in doing so. It didn't matter to him. Similarly, he ignored possible rebellion or escape, because it was not the story he wanted to tell. This is something he states clearly in the video posted earlier. Addressing both points would have made for a much more credible book, but he had no interest in doing either. He simply ignored them to the maximum extent he thought possible. I don't know that I'd call it laziness. Just an extremely narrow focus. And I think it detracts substantially from what might otherwise have been a very good book.

@Catlady. Am I wrong in assuming that there is zero chance of you ever reading "The Girl With All The Gifts"? Even the first couple of chapters?
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:32 AM   #100
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I had thought - hoped - we'd gotten past the "science". There is no scientific presentation in this book, there are no facts to argue about. I saw nothing scientifically impossible in this book. I've certainly seen bigger stretches in other science-fiction - most of it (because the "science" of Never Let Me Go is not particularly interesting). Most of the details that have been questioned have some possible explanation. Whether the explanations are probable is another matter, but we've been through them so there is no need to repeat.


I find it curious that a rebellion or escape might be thought to make the story more credible. How can that be? Whether any attempted rebellion or escape was successful or not, it in no way changes the credibility of the starting situation, it only changes how you feel about it. Don't you find that a bit interesting?
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:54 AM   #101
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<snip> I find it curious that a rebellion or escape might be thought to make the story more credible. How can that be? Whether any attempted rebellion or escape was successful or not, it in no way changes the credibility of the starting situation, it only changes how you feel about it. Don't you find that a bit interesting?
Well, I do, but then you and I are among the few who liked the book, gmw! I really didn't worry about the hows and whys of the situation but only whether I believed Kathy's voice and how much she revealed about her life and the society which had created her and her fellow clones. And it worked for me, if not for others.

Another thing to consider which says a lot about the society: who is her audience? It is clear from the beginning that she is writing the story for other clones. In Chapter 1 on about the second page, she writes:

Quote:
If you are one of them ...
- them being carers.

In Chapter 2 she writes in talking about Hailsham:

Quote:
I don't know how it was where you were...
when talking about having a medical check every week.

For me, this shows again the total isolation of the clones from the "normal" human society. It doesn't occur to her that a non-clone might read her book.

And so going back to earlier comments, I don't think there would be any question of a relationship between a clone and a member of the society they served. There might of course be sexual abuse of the children by the people who were supposed to be their guardians. Sadly, we know only too well these days how that could be the case. But a consenting relationship between adults? No, I don't think so.
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Old 09-21-2018, 05:55 AM   #102
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[...] For me, this shows again the total isolation of the clones from the "normal" human society. It doesn't occur to her that a non-clone might read her book. [...]
I had forgotten there was that sense of being spoken to as if I were one of the coterie. I think it adds to the that's the way things were acceptance of the circumstances as you read (assuming the book got you involved enough to feel that - which apparently wasn't the case for everyone).


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but then you and I are among the few who liked the book, gmw!
But don't you love the way reactions mix and match with different books. The Kate Anderson book you really liked but I didn't finish. That you and others liked Dandelion Wine much more than myself or Catlady. I couldn't finish Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer, but astrangerhere enjoyed it, meanwhile we both obviously really liked Never Let Me Go.

It shouldn't, I've seen enough of it, but I still continue to find this sort of thing surprising and intriguing. It's always: how can that be? (Like finding people that don't like truly favourite books of mine: no, that's impossible, you must have missed something! )
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Old 09-21-2018, 05:56 AM   #103
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@Bookpossum.

I suspect that it was not prohibited but not encouraged. The clones were told:

Quote:
We had to be extremely careful about having sex in the outside world, especially with people who weren’t students, because out there sex meant all sorts of things.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:55 AM   #104
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I have no interest in scientific nuts and bolts as story-telling, probably a large (but not the only) reason I don't care for science fiction, but social and economic underpinnings to a story can trip me up.

That said, I will admit that I probably got too caught up in what I referred to earlier as the slight framework for this story which I thought couldn't bear the weight of whatever Ishiguro was trying to express, that is, that there wasn't enough story so it was far too easy to project anything at all onto it. A form of parable, if I can make that comparison.

But the discussion has caused me to appreciate more the language and the indirection used by Ishiguro to tell his story, so I need to step back a bit and not get so caught up in the minutiae. However, I still don't think his "point," if it can be called that, is all that interesting nor is the means he's using to tell it compelling enough for me. It needed to be one or the other - a fresh concept or a story that was more than a schooldays romantic triangle at base.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:55 AM   #105
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Ah thanks darryl - I had forgotten that comment.
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