Recycled Creatures and Rogue Genomes: Biotechnology in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas

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Abstract

In an era when the modern sense of ‘nature’ as a domain outside of culture is quickly becoming obsolete – in large part due to advanced technology such as bioengineering – is there a way of conceiving of this collapse that does not bolster an anthropocentric drive to dominate nature and/or to erase its différance? Science fiction has always created myths that allow us to explore both the efficacy and limitations of technology's ability to control nature. In Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell's clone, Sonmi-451, updates and radicalizes Mary Shelley's caution to modern science in Frankenstein. As a biological cyborg, Sonmi's material and semiotic identity is irreducibly unpredictable, suggesting nature's resistance to control even within social systems that seek absolute power over living entities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-631
Number of pages17
JournalLiterature Compass
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2009

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