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October 04, 2005

Things to Know About Clones


Just some general notes on the care and feeding of clones. 

1. They will always want to dress exactly the same. It's a group identity thing. Try to get one to wear a different shirt or maybe some pants while the others are wearing shorts, and they all start screaming in this weirdly-synchronized, air-siren-like way, which is damn annoying. Since you'll no doubt have tattooed the bottoms of their feet or the back of their neck or where ever with the usual identifying barcode, what do you care? Let the idiots all dress the same. The good news is that clones apparently have no fashion sense and will be happy to wear cheap T-Shirts and denim more or less on a constant basis. Wal-Mart fashions were made for clones.

2. Many of you will think that once you've created a clone, you can get it to do all your work for you while you lounge on the deck, drinking a frosty mug of brew. What is rather more likely to happen is that your clone will be just as lazy as you are and will tell you to mow your own damn lawn, and then grab the remote to watch Sports Center. Adding additional clones does not help the situation; what you end up with is a couch full of people who look just like you, mocking you about your work habits. You want someone to mow the lawn, hire a gardener.

3. Your clones will be under the impression that they are also married to your wife. You need to nip that shit in the bud, like, pronto.

4. Clones are naturally apprehensive about their purpose in life, so they are understandably somewhat humorless when you answer their "why am I here?" questions with answers like "why, to be harvested for organs, of course." Especially when that is, in fact, why they are here. Really, people. Don't tell them. It just makes them jumpy and liable to come after you with handy tools.

5. Tangentially related: Evil clone? Never happens. Bitter, sarcastic clone? Every freakin' time.

6. Clones eat like the proverbial horses. They will tell you that it's due to shortened telomeres, or body fatigue from being forced to grow into an adult body or whatever. It's all lies, despicable lies. Clones will go through a week's worth of food in two days, and then you'll just have a chunky version of yourself grazing in the pantry. Establish "you pay for what you eat" rules early and often or you will never hear the end of it.

7. If you have more than one clone, they will blame the other ones for whatever terrible things they did (i.e., "it wasn't me who ate the last donut/vivisected the cat/tried to asphyxiate you while you slept -- It was Clone Two!"). Early on you will be able to counter this through the fact that even though clones have the same DNA, they have different fingerprints, but then they get wise and start wearing gloves. They're sneaky, you see. Simple solution: GPS chips embedded in the shoulder before you first wake them up, otherwise they'll dig them out with a screwdriver or butter knife or something, and then aside from a having an unchipped clone on the loose and wreaking havoc, there's all that blood you have to clean up. And no, the other clones won't mop it up for you. See point number 2.

8. One good thing about clones: They are endlessly fascinated by the folks who come to the door wanting to talk to you about Jesus. Also telemarketers. Indulge them (it's harmless enough) but under no circumstances let them near your credit card numbers.  

9. Games of "Rock Paper Scissors" with a clone always end in a tie. At first it's kind of cool. But then the clones just can't let it go.

10. Eventually your clone will get the idea of cloning itself. You might think it's a bad idea at first -- everyone knows that a clone of clone is like a second generation photocopy, and it becomes slightly more smudged, and then next thing you know you've got a drooling idjit that looks like a mashup between you and the late Marty Feldman -- but on the other hand, by the time your clone gets this idea, you'll have realized that all your clone is good for is sitting on the couch and mocking you while it eats your food and tries to trick your wife into having sex with it. Doesn't your clone deserve to be similarly afflicted? Sure it does. Be warned, however: Your clone's clone will still want to sleep with your wife. They're just that way.

(So, did I mention I'm editing a special edition of Subterranean Magazine in Spring 2006 with the theme of Science Fiction Cliches? I -- and my elite cadre of clone assistants -- are accepting submissions now! All the details are here.)

Posted by john at October 4, 2005 10:49 AM

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Naomi | October 4, 2005 11:58 AM

3. Your clones will be under the impression that they are also married to your wife. You need to nip that shit in the bud, like, pronto.

Why not just also clone your wife? I'd have thought that given the option of a half-dozen extra copies of YOURSELF in your life, or a half-dozen additional Krissys, you'd go for extra Krissys.

John Scalzi | October 4, 2005 12:03 PM

If I had more than one Krissy, I'd be dead from exhaustion. But happy! Also, given her mega super competence, there would be a question of what two of her would need with one of me, other than comedy relief.

RooK | October 4, 2005 12:17 PM

Not only are clones delicious, it very sensibly follows what your grandmother always told you: "You are what you eat".

Emily | October 4, 2005 01:11 PM

Perfect timing for this entry, as I just read about the complete "Calvin and Hobbes" treasury in the Washington Post. Ah, the clones I have known.

Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn | October 4, 2005 01:17 PM

What is the point of having a clone if it's not going to be evil? (And do all your dirty work.)

John Scalzi | October 4, 2005 01:24 PM

Barbershop quartets!

Rich G. | October 4, 2005 01:54 PM

Get with the times, Scalzi -- RFID. Barcodes are so 80s.

Chad Orzel | October 4, 2005 02:14 PM

Book deadline Friday?

Abigail | October 4, 2005 02:15 PM

Games of "Rock Paper Scissors" with a clone always end in a tie.

Oh, John, are you a closeted Farscape fan?

John Scalzi | October 4, 2005 02:34 PM

Abigail: Nope. Never seen an episode.

Chad: Hush, now.

Phillip J. Birmingham | October 4, 2005 03:20 PM

I see that you have attained Ultraviolet clearance without losing a single clone, Citizen! The Computer congratulates you!

Robert | October 4, 2005 03:59 PM

Are all of your clones wearing In-n-Out burger shirts? I would kill (well, maybe just maim) for a double-double animal style right now.

Lisa | October 4, 2005 04:02 PM

These are the things you can't do in your yard in the city where your neighbors are not five miles away.

This little project would have been fun to watch and then gossip to the other neighbors about why that crazy guy set up his camera and then ran around taking pictures of himself.

Aaah, country life.

Scott | October 4, 2005 04:02 PM

He did say that they like to eat.

The good news (for In'n'Out) is that they like good food.

Steve Eley | October 4, 2005 05:36 PM

Phillip J. Birmingham:
I see that you have attained Ultraviolet clearance without losing a single clone, Citizen! The Computer congratulates you!

In that case he should have six clones. I only count five.

("What? Counting is unauthorized at my clearance level? Aaaaaaargh!")

Douglas | October 4, 2005 06:56 PM

Six is behind the camera.

Prime is 'nipping that shit in the bud'.

Leslie | October 4, 2005 07:29 PM

you're having WAY too much fun with the new camera

Jon Hansen | October 4, 2005 08:02 PM

The obvious use for an evil clone is insurance fraud. Y'know, faking your own death.

shana | October 4, 2005 08:10 PM

check out the song "clone" by Mike Gordon & Leo Kottke. you'd like it.

John Scalzi | October 4, 2005 08:10 PM

Heh heh heh.

There's a reason why I think that's funny, Jon. I won't share it with you now, but one day you'll understand why I find that amusing. You'll all understand.

Karen | October 4, 2005 09:23 PM

No exploration of sci-fi cliche would be complete without checking the Evil Overlord List, which basically covers all the villian's standards.


Dave Ruddell | October 5, 2005 09:37 AM

Should we just call him SCALZ-I-JHN? Of course, I don't know if he should be cloninbg with only an Indigo clearance.

Man, I haven't thought about Paranoia in years.

Jon Hansen | October 5, 2005 12:46 PM

Hm. I've either stumbled into a plot point for Ghost Brigades, or I need to start monitoring news out of Ohio.

J-U-STN-3 | October 5, 2005 01:57 PM

Dave Ruddell (treasonously) says:

Should we just call him SCALZ-I-JHN? Of course, I don't know if he should be cloninbg with only an Indigo clearance.

You're not cleared for that information, citizen. Please report to the nearest termination center.

Trust no one!

The Computer is your friend!

Keep your laser handy!

Melanie Fletcher | October 5, 2005 05:45 PM

Okay, lemme guess -- the clone on the far right is the second generation photocopy, correct?

John Scalzi | October 5, 2005 05:49 PM

I was thinking it'd be the one twirling away in the distance.

Brian Greenberg | October 6, 2005 05:02 PM

A philisophical question for the group: Cloned Johns figure out how to make cloned Krissys and well, you know...

Do we wind up with cloned Athenas?

Penny | October 7, 2005 11:31 AM

Great... that means 4 more Scalzi journals..like I don't get enough grief about choosing J's over cleaning... WHATEVER...

LRB | December 27, 2005 11:12 AM

Have you heard about the Clonesome Loser? He's a loser, but he still keeps on tryin'.

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