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November 29, 2011

Clones, Replicants, and Creatures…Oh MY!

What makes someone a human is a very important theme in Science Fiction. But humanity, or “humaness” is a hard thing to define. It is simply just one of those know-it-when-you-see-it kind of traits. Although many famous science fiction books and movies include casts of characters that may not be biologically human. Sometimes it is the aliens or the monsters who come out looking the most human in the end, while the humans seem unrecognizable to us.

In House of the Scorpion Matt is treated by the majority of humans as little more than a beast. Because he is a clone is seen as less than a second class citizen. He is the property of El Patrón, the original Matteo Alacrán. Although in the universe created by the novel clones are meant to be thought of as creatures, to be scorned and looked down upon, not worthy of even touching a human. As readers we certainly do not have that opinion of Matt. Since Matt is the narrator we sympathize with him most of all. And out of all the characters we meet he often seems the most human to us. Although he is genetically human, he was not born to parents and does not have a unique set of DNA. He may not be biologically human, but in comparison to the cast of traditionally “human” characters around him it is plain to see that he has the most humanity of the bunch. While El Patrón’s famiy and those who live on the estate are a cruel, vindictive, money hungry gang — Matt is a caring, innocent young boy with a thirst for knowledge. We see through his eyes and can relate to our own childhood experiences or recognize a young relative, a nephew ora cousin. Matt’s emotions, friendships, and compassion are what make him more human that the actual human characters.

This is a similar experience to reading Frankenstein or watching Blade Runner. In Frankenstein the monster was a much more sympathetic character then Victor because of his struggles. Victor was a mad man who got carried away with his scientific ambitions and brought ruin and tragedy upon almost everyone he loved or who touched his life. The monster on the other hand only desired to be happy, he was thrust into a life of misery against his will and sought to better himself in every way he possibly could. Despite the fact that he was rejected and tortured at every turn he still longed to be accepted by people and was at heart a gentle creature. Only resorting to violence because he had no other method of reasoning. Of the characters in Frankenstein, just like in House of the Scorpion, it is the inhuman character that is the most compellingly human. It is the monster that displays the most humanity, and the scientist who created him who is the most incomprehensible to us.

The same basic principle is true of the film Blade Runner. The Replicants shown to us in the movie are far more sympathetic and dynamic than any human character given screen time. Similar to Matt they have limited lifespans and their genes and bodies are designed for them. They do not get to choose anything about who they are going to be. Once they are that person however they choose how they are going to be them. The Replicants in Blade Runner show far more humanity than the humans, the feel so strongly for the little life that they have they will go through anything to preserve it.

Filed by at November 29th, 2011 under Uncategorized
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