Monday, March 15, 2010

Troublesome Soul-utions*

I watched a sci-fi film with a friend tonight. I'm not going to say which because I don't want to spoil anything, but it involves, among other things, human cloning.

This got me thinking: If there is one soul for every human, and that human is cloned, do you get a) multiple copies of the same soul? b) multiple souls as every clone is its own person and personality? c) soulless clones, or d) a fragmented soul? And what would the repercussions of the above be?

Extrapolation time! I'm assuming that souls, memories, and personalities have some kind of intrinsic connection**. I'm also going to name our template Horace because cloning him and messing with his soul isn't mean enough.

  1. Multiple copies - Each Horace would have identical memories and therefore identical personalities up to the point of "awakening". After the Clone-Horaces are up and running, they'd have individual experiences that would shape their personalities further, of course, but they'd all remember the same parents, same pets, same scenery, and so on. From a fantasy point of view, this could be highly unnatural (copied souls are black magic and/or using up the aether souls are made from) or entirely natural (one step away from reincarnation; easier to copy a soul than to make a new one).
  2. Multiple souls - Each Clone-Horace would awaken without memories or personality, and would be like a child regardless of physical age. Personality could be downloaded, but the composition of each soul would skew the personality fairly quickly. (A soul with a lot of innate rage would approach a patronizing doctor differently than a soul with innate compassion, even if they both remembered really nice pediatricians.) In fantasy, this process would probably be seen as unnatural or dark if each soul came from a reserve and deprived an infant, but preferable to a copied-soul situation.
  3. No souls - Horace would retain his personality and memories, but none of the Clone-Horaces would awaken with them. Instead, they'd be essentially shells, completely devoid of personality, and either existing in a sort of animalistic state (trainable, short-term memory unless reinforced) or forming memories but having no way to reflect on their meanings and values. I can definitely see someone with strong enough tech or magic using these clones as physical puppets. A fantasy world, depending on their ethics, would abhor soulless clones or see them as even better than the multiple-soul versions***.
  4. Fragmented souls - Each Clone-Horace would suck a little bit more soul/personality/memory from Horace (and any previously-created clones), resulting in one personality trait or subset of memories existing in one clone, along with various moral codes. Get all the clones together and they function as a single being. Separate them, and you start having problems à la sci-fi comedies. A possible offshoot of this type of cloning would be that the soul fragment of any clone that died would fuse with the fragments in the others, giving them fresh memories or traits and/or making the whole clone network harder to kill. (Like a Horcrux.) I'm not quite sure how a fantasy world would handle these clones, but I bet Voldemort would've liked the idea.

More questions:

  • If someone's mass-cloning is depleting their world's soul-bank, causing infants to be born with no souls, what challenges would be involved in raising such an infant and how long would their soullessness go unnoticed or the Hero connected the dots between soulless infants and mysterious gatherings of identical warriors?
  • What would a fantasy world where cloning was the norm look like? What kind(s) of magic would be involved in cloning? Would there be both light and dark routes? Would there even be a light route?
  • Has anyone even created a fantasy world with clones, or is that just a sci-fi thing? Would anyone read a cloning fantasy?
  • What would it be like to be a fragment-clone who randomly receives other fragments of the parent-soul as his clone-brothers die?
  • Could multiple souls be used as a magical reservoir? Spend a sacrifice-worth of magic to create one and get a ten-fold boost in power? Would doing this and then sacrificing the clone give you ten times the potency for a spell? How many clones can be created by sacrificing a clone?
  • In fantasy, would clones share a telepathic bond? Even if they had no souls?
  • How many clones can a Dark Lord puppet at one time? Would he delegate?
  • What would Sauron do?

* Yes, it's a horrible pun. I couldn't resist.
** Kind of personal fiction-philosophy. Feel free to contest it.
*** Which may well give me nightmares tonight. Eep.

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