Book Reviews of The Fifth Child and The Copy
The Fifth Child / Doris Lessing
Synopsis - Newlyweds Harriet and David are in love with making babies. They just bought a big house with a big yard and have big plans to fill their lives with lots of home-made babies. They pop out one, two, three, four beautiful, loving babies, appropriately spaced apart, in accordance with responsible baby-making. But wait. There's no such thing as "responsible baby-making." And to baby-make matters worse, the prolific parents oopsied the baby-making scheduling, and now they've popped out a demon spawn instead of a beautiful and loving baby number five. And by "demon spawn," I mean "DEMON SPAWN." Figuratively, not literally, but you get the point. Philosopher David Pearce said every child is a unique genetic experiment. And this child drives that demon spike home. Now it's a battle of wills... the will to not kill VS the will to live happily ever after.
Reaction - I'm always mystified by the active desire of most people to permanently saddle themselves with children. So reading a (fictionalized) account of a seemingly well-adjusted couple deciding to become parents (many times over) is a chance to peek into the psychology of willful baby-making. Signing up to be legally, financially, and physically responsible for raising a human from conception thought adulthood. In my opinion, few things would be more dreadful and terrifying. What did I glean from this story? That baby-makers love making babies as long as the babies are like them.
Recommendation - Read this if you're thinking about making a baby. Then don't make a baby.
The Copy / Grant Boshoff
Synopsis - Geoffrey and Jeff are close. Same career, same family, same genes. They're so alike they get on each others' nerves... a lot. They're so alike you could almost say they're the same person. But they're obviously not the same person, because they each have their own body. But is a separate body what defines a single person? Nevermind, it's up to the judge: If you clone yourself, then kill yourself, is it murder, or suicide? And how is a clone different from a replica?
Reaction - Self-identity haunts me. I firmly believe a clone or a replica of a person would be a separate person. The original person has one subjective experience, and the clone or replica has a separate subjective experience. But what if you were to replicate yourself, and kill your original body in the process? Would the replica be you? Would your continuity of consciousness survive intact? If so, where would your consciousness reside if your original body wasn't killed in the replication process? Who gets the rights to the original life? And what rights would you claim if you woke up tomorrow and were truthfully told you are a replica? As an original, what rights might you grant to your replica? And if both original and replica where granted the option to contain the same (but separate) life, would it matter to you whether you were the original or the replica? Why..?
Recommendation - Read this to trigger a self-identity crisis. Then don't get replicated.