Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Marcia Douglas

Abstract

To what degree is love genetically determined? Is it there, some magical golden dust, resting between the coils of strands in every living cell of our bodies? Is it already known by the fates before we’re ever born? Or is it merely a possibility triggered by a series of chaotic dominoes, a roll of the dice made right by only one correct lifetime, never to be replicated? The year is 2163 and Cassius Burke, a genetic engineer leading an elite team of cloning scientists known as the Replicists, has learned his wife Jesica has died. She, and millions of other women, was drafted as a solider in the Chinese-American war and never came home. All Burke has left is her locket—and the hope that his knowledge of cloning can resurrect his beloved Jesica. Cloning, of course, has its drawbacks. First and foremost, the clone arrives as a squalling and vulnerable infant that Burke must not only hide from the prying eyes of everyone in the United Corporate States of America and the enforcer known as the Overseer, but also raise to take the place of lover. This science fiction story in the vein of 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale follows multiple points of view as Burke descends into Lolita-esque madness and baby J. grows into awareness finding a world more like a prison, unable to leave Burke’s apartment for fear of being discovered by hyper-intelligent cameras. How long can Burke keep his biggest secret and just what does the UCSA want to keep people from finding outside the city walls? I wrote The Ressurectionist to address the dual ideas of cloning and corporate personhood, wrestling them into the speculative what-if that asks uncomfortable questions that may not be far in our own future. With recent Supreme Court rulings designating businesses as persons and committees so big they require the word “super,” people already allow corporations to vote with their money. Television shows document people cloning their pets for huge sums of money on the off-chance that DNA can determine love. It isn’t such a farfetched idea that corporations might soon become the government and lovers could wish to clone the dead. As an author, it is my job to be nosy and I couldn’t resist finding out what would happen if someone tried. My characters, it turns out, had a lot to tell me. Science fiction can often seem cold and detached, mirroring faceless overlord governments and the robotic technologies of the day. However, I take the story in an emotional and human direction because it is told from the perspectives of each of the main characters in turn. Each of their experiences—the replicist, the replicate, and the original—are important and so tightly knotted to each other as to be inextricable. Thus, the narrative is organized in sections headed by the name of the character speaking in first person. Often, memories intrude informing setting, character history, and action. This story draws from genres of science fiction, survival, and a twisted sense of romance. Women’s issues and technology tint my story’s world but I want the focus to be on human lives making human choices. The focus of this story is on a microcosm of one man’s obsession and the disastrous results that engineering human lives can have. But aren’t the stories of the war and of the complacent masses important, even if they’re implausible? I would argue that, while interesting, these stories have been told before because they’ve already happened. The collective denial of the German people and governments during and following the Second World War are both an inspiration to my story and proof millions of dehumanized lives could be taken without an outcry. Knowledge of the past is useful, if it saves the future. But Burke did more than study the past; he brought it back to life.

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