Thursday, August 11, 2005

clones & angels

Just finished The Time of the Angels by Iris Murdoch, a curiously claustrophobic experience. The characters seem trapped in their lives, unable to move beyond the destiny ordained for them by character - they are like the painted angels on Eugene Peshkov's icon. As ever, Murdoch's prose is divinely precise. At the end, though the characters leave the house, they are still trapped in the strange sad webs of their destiny, and still detached from each other and from other human beings, still viewing everything through a distorting lens. Leo Peshkov reminded me of Lafcadio in Les Caves du Vatican - though Leo realises that one cannot live without morality because he experiences remorse for his immoral action.

Now reading Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm. It's a beautiful book, well-crafted and thought-provoking. The characters are well-drawn, the shift of power from humans to clones is convincing, the prose is lyrical, the characters engaging (except for the poor degraded breeders). The only thing is, she doesn't go into quite enough detail about how the telepathy between the clones works, although an analogy is offered in the form of the rapport that exists between twins. But the return to individuality and the explanation for it is convincing, even if the explanation has been simplified for a non-psychology audience. It is interesting that Wilhelm does not envisage the possibility of temporary subsumption in a group mind followed by a return to individuality. The title comes from the fourth line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 73. I must also get around to reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (also about clones) - it should make an interesting contrast.

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