Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Friday, July 21, 2006
About that letter you meant to write to the Radio Times all those years ago... Forget it, you obsessive. It's my unwritten letter from eighteen years ago that deserves to finally get an airing.

My post about clones from the other day reminded me of a 1988 BBC drama called First Born, based on a book called Gor Saga* by Maureen Duffy.

Here's a plot summary from an Amazon review:

A doctor inseminates a Gorilla named "Mary" with human sperm.The first line in the series is about how the child looks human; because it is. The story follows Gordon through infancy, childhood, and adulthood. As a child (with ape-strength)he has difficulty talking, until an operation gives him speech. Yet he exhibits many ape-habits; for instance he spends time in trees, sleeps "under" his bed, and grunts ... He chooses to become a Priest and live a life of peace, yet when he finds out who his real mother was, a Priest tells him he's not one of God's creation, just man's creation.
I remember the series as being convincing and thrilling, but the scene with the priest bugged me. Did the writer have to make him so thick? I took it then that the priest was meant to be a Catholic; it's reasonable to assume that if ever such genetic manipulation did become possible the Pope of the day would oppose it being done. But there is no reason to suppose that disfavour would extend to the innocent people born as a result of such manipulation. Plenty of people are born even now in 1988 (I thought but did not get round to writing) as a result of practices opposed by the Church: fornication, adultery and rape. Surely very few, and those few so ignorant that they would have trouble getting through a seminary, would hold that being a child conceived as a result of rape, for instance, disbars that person from the possiblity of sainthood on exactly the same terms as every other human being.

I also seem to recall that the priest told Gordon that he had no soul, or at least was unable to confirm that he did have a soul. Once again, I was irritated that the priest was portrayed as never even having thought that having the ability to ask whether one has a soul might supply its own answer.

That's what Kirk says to McCoy in Spock Must Die, anyway. The point seems good to me.

*Gor was an unfortunate choice of name, given the interminable series of porn/fantasy novels by John Norman featuring a planet also called Gor. If one is called upon to read passages from these works aloud, best replace every fifth noun with the word "hedgehog." And drink up like a sportsman.