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Sex Week: Tears of a Clone — The Perils of Romance in a World of Doppelgangers

Written by: Carlton King, Special to CC2K

It’s a complicated world for romance.  You like Mary, but she doesn’t like you.  Or she DOES like you, but she’s already married to someone else.  Or you’re the one who’s not free.  There are many different combinations, but it all boils down to the same thing:  We tend to fall in love with only one person at a time, and that person is often already committed to someone else. (Okay polyamorists, put your hands down, we see you.)  Wanting someone who is already taken is a recipe for heartbreak as old as romance itself.

But in our new digital age, you don’t have to be limited by the fact that there’s only one of the person you want.  We can make unlimited identical copies of almost anything: music, books, documents, Ford Fiestas.  If Mary is already married to Larry, why not just whip up another Mary and date her?  Think Dolly the sheep, but a better conversationalist.  And cuter.  (Okay zoophiles, we see you too, thanks.)

Please note: Some of the links and videos are NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

So go ahead, clone your crush.  To clarify, we are talking about copies with the same memories, abilities, etc., but a separate consciousness.  Not new people, like Blade Runner, and not like that old blue kinkster, Doctor Manhattan, who just wants to give his girlfriend a nice surprise.

He’s so freaky, he has a duplicate of himself working in the other room while the others are sexing up Sally Jupiter!









How do you do this?  To get you started, here’s an instructional video from the movie Metropolis, in which not-at-all-insane wizard Rotwang invites the saintly political activist Maria back to the lab so that he can create a robot that looks just like her.

Before you take it that far, however, you should be aware of some potential pitfalls of romance in a world of carbon copies.  Here are the most common.

1.  The clone has a different personality.

You like the real person, but the duplicate isn’t the same.  As you may be able to tell from that video, the robot Maria may look and sound just like the real one, but her personality is somewhat different from the original (the men in tuxes would say different as in better, but you can decide for yourself).  Robot Maria is evil: she tries to destroy the city, while Original-Recipe Maria can only try to sound the alarm and save the workers from drowning in their barracks.  (The good stuff starts around 2:25 into the following clip.)

Be aware of this possibility.  Your new clone lover may not be the person you put through the photocopier.

(For an odd reversal of this problem, see the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Galaxy’s Child.”  Geordi has developed a very close working relationship with a holographic projection of a lady scientist, and is annoyed and embarrassed when the real lady scientist shows up to meet the hologram.  Start at about 5:16 in that clip, if you can bear it.)

2.  The clone is created to trick you.

Wouldn’t it be creepy if you were with some hottie, getting up close and personal, making out even, when you realized that the person you had in a lip-lock wasn’t a person at all?  Instead, it’s an alien duplicate that’s going to kill you and everyone else.  Wouldn’t that be really creepy?  Kevin McCarthy sure thinks so.

For an even sexier take on this, see the entire series run of (the recent) Battlestar Galactica.  Particularly recommended is the episode “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which answers the question, “Under what circumstances would it be a bad thing to have sex with two identical woman who look just like Grace Park?

What do you do in that situation?  Follow Ash’s advice:

3.  Your clone tries to muscle you out and take over.

If you can create a duplicate of someone, what’s to stop other people from creating them of you?  Maybe the duplicate doesn’t want to be just a second-rate version of you.  Maybe it wants to be you — and if it can replace you, how would anyone ever know?  Its reasons: you aren’t so great, I can do better.  Let me take a shot at these relationships.  I can be nicer to your wife, your girlfriend, even your poor long-suffering mother, than you are.  They won’t even miss you when you’re gone — how can they, when I’m here?

This is just what happens to Peter Jay Novins in the 1980s-vintage Twilight Zone episode “Shatterday.”  He calls his own number by accident, and gets himself.

(That episode has a pretty good pedigree, by the way.  It stars Bruce Willis and his 1980’s hair, was directed by Wes Craven, and is based on a short story by the Glass Goblin himself, Harlan Ellison.)

See also the 1960 Twilight Zone episode “Mirror Image” in which a woman finds her doppelganger in a bus station on a rainy night.  And all this happens just as she meets a nice young man . . . he’d be better off if she weren’t so pretty.

4.  You’re the clone.

There you are, going through life thinking that you are who the person whose name is lettered on your shirt.  But you aren’t.  You’re a duplicate, probably created for some limited reason with memories that are either implanted to help you do your job or an unintended side effect.  (Spoilers for the recent film Moon, below.  It’s a good movie, so watch the whole thing sometime.)

Pity poor Sam Bell, finishing up a three-year tour on a lonely moonbase.  He’s cut off from the world, and only has long-delayed video messages from his wife to keep him going.  He thinks he’ll be going back to be with her soon . . . but then there’s an accident, and he discovers that he’s not really alone.  There’s another one of him, with the same name, same memories, even the same ugly t-shirt.  They’re clones of Sam Bell, and they live and die on the moonbase.  The wife sending him the messages has been dead for years.  The three year-old daughter whom he thinks about constantly?  Now a teenager who doesn’t know he exists, or that he ever existed.  He’s on the moon, he has no family, and will never get home because there’s no home to get to.

For an inferior take on this, see the better-than-normal (but still not particularly good) episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, “Similitude.”

So what’s the lesson from all this?  It’s pretty simple: You can’t cut corners in romance.  If you like someone, you should try to be with that person and not some fantasy creation of the person.  And no matter how well you know someone, you should always be prepared for the possibility that they are not who you think they are.

Author: Carlton King, Special to CC2K

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