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What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in Orphan Black

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  160 ratings  ·  39 reviews
What is the real-world history and science of human cloning, and how closely does Orphan Black nail it? Can you "own" a person--even a cloned one? How can Sarah Manning be straight, Cosima gay, and Tony trans? Cult hit sci-fi show Orphan Black doesn't just entertain--it also raises fascinating questions about human cloning, its ethics, and its impact on personal identity. ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published April 14th 2016 by BenBella Books, Inc. (first published March 29th 2016)
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Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I came really close to DNF-ing this at less than 100 pages in. The author has such an arrogant voice that it is very off-putting. I think it's safe to say that anyone reading this book feels basically the same way as the author about these issues, so there was a pointless 'preaching to the choir' feeling to it all. But honestly, I could probably take that fine for 256 pages, but then there were sections that just felt like the author was saying "See those people who disagree? Let's laugh at them ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
As an unashamed Orphan Black fan, I'm fascinated by many of the issues that the show raises. So I naturally found myself to this book.

Pence is a bioethics professor of many years' experience, and has come to prominence since writing extensively about human cloning since Dolly the Sheep's appearance. This book probes the scientific and ethical questions raised by the show (albeit up to the end of season 3).

1. Learning Science the pop-culture way
Pence knows what he's talking about, and is able (on
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
4.5 stars

I loved this. As a massive fan of orphan black as well as someone who finds science and psychology fascinating (did biology, chemistry and psychology in college and now doing biochemistry at A level) I thought this was the perfect mix of educational and understandable.
There were many points where terms were explained that I already knew however I had to keep reminding myself, not every reader is as science based as me and so it needs to be accessible.
My favourite thing about this book i
Absolutely loved it.
Beautifully written and understandable for people not used to the medical (and I guess, legal) terms.
I originally thought it was too basic (the ethics part), but I think it was just because I'm a Law student, so the terms are more familiar to me. The medical/biological/___ part was challenging enough not to bored with ununderstandable terms and yet easy to follow while not being condenscending.
As an OB, I believe this is a MUST. But, if you like cloning, bioethics, issues on
Denise Morse
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not only a great book to read prior to the start of the current Orphan Black season but also a great book about the ethical implications of cloning. I learned a lot about genetics, the meaning of different cloning related terms and the current science of genetic testing and cloning. It was an easy to read and still extremely informative book.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a highly readable companion piece to the show. Its focus is on the underlying philosophy and science. Highly recommended if you're familiar with the show.
mad mags
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the science behind Orphan Black.

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)

"Bioethics is one of today’s most exciting new fields. Orphan Black is one of the most exciting shows on television. Bioethics explores ethical issues in medicine and science. Orphan Black dramatizes ethical issues in medicine and science. What could be more appropriate than a marriage of the two?"

Even casual fans of BBC America's hit television show Orphan Black
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this one- learned a lot about the science behind cloning, etc. Explained several terms that the show tosses around, "pluripotent" among others.
But for a science guy, he's got some weird religious hang-ups. I understand that many people of heavy science background are by nature not very religious minded. But it's like, he's dismissive of religion, but he keeps bringing it up just so he can dismiss it again. And bringing it up in unnecessary places.
Obviously, a discussion of clon
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I really enjoyed the philosophical ideas, the scientific background on cloning and the psychological discussions in this book. As it is a short book any of these topics could be discussed further and more in depth. I certainly got many new ideas of topics worth exploring and some new books as well as companies to watch on my list.
Madeline Henry
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good companion to the Orphan Black series. This book was clearly very well researched and opened my eyes to a lot of the ethical issues surrounding cloning.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked his definitions and approachability of bioethical, morality and biotechnical issues of present day all wrapped up in Orphan Black. I finally understand epigentics. Some passages were repetitive. I would like an updated book after the show finished this past season.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fun and easy read. Of all the things a person can do for a living, watching Orphan Black and writing about it is pretty high up on my list of dream jobs.
Billy Marino
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Finally knocked out the last couple chapters, which I should've done before I started the semester, but oh well. Overall, this was a really cool book, with a big goal, and it mostly hit it. The last philosophical parts were not as interesting as I had hoped, they barely skimmed the surface of the ethics. I thoroughly enjoyed the middle chapters with a focus on great, easy to understand scientific explanations of what's going on in with clones and similar aspects of genetics and biology, and just ...more
Abby Katz
Pence covers a lot of ground in a good amount of depth in this book, especially considering how short and approachable of a read it is. His expertise on the history and implications of bioethics is evident, even if he only really has time to discuss them on a very simplified, surface level. It's easily digested without being oversimplified, which is good, but there are time at which I think he could have gone into just a little bit more detail, maybe.
I found the elements of philosophy that Penc
J Earl
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, won
What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club by Gregory E. Pence is an excellent book for both fans of Orphan Black and students of bioethics. Pence discusses enough science to make the bioethics discussion understandable while also displaying his love and knowledge of the TV show for illustration purposes.

While using popular culture to help make various subjects more accessible has been common for decades (at least since my days as a student in the 80s and teaching in the 90s and 00s) withi
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I saw the cover of this book and the words "Clone Club" and immediately knew that I had to read What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club by Gregory E. Pence. I love the show Orphan Black. It's fun. It's intriguing. It makes me think. What could be better than a book about one of my favorite shows! Thankfully, the book did not disappoint.

For anyone not familiar with the show, it starts with a woman named Sarah Manning who sees a woman jump in front of a train. It's hard to know which is
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Usually I read a book before watching a film or television adaptation but every once in a while there’s a great book written about a movie or television series. As a fan of Orphan Black, I’m still in mild denial that the show is going to be starting its fifth and final season in a few short months. A provocative series about the lives of a series of clones, Orphan Black gives its fans plenty to talk about. Gregory E. Pence, a professor at UAB and an expert in cloning and bioethics, has compiled ...more
Jessica Bronder
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
With the popularity of the television series Orphan Black, Gregory Pence has written about cloning. Gregory discussed many things from the ethics of creating clones, our fears, anomalies, identities, and the future of clones. Since Dolly, the first cloned sheep, everyone seems to have one opinion or another on clones. I feel that most people feel threatened by them in one sense or another, from what kind of a person/human being will they be to how they threaten the idea of being human from birth ...more
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was a fascinating read. I definitely learned a lot. But I thought the author was constantly repeating himself, so the whole thing was way longer than it should have been.
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
For the uninitiated, Orphan Black is the story of Sarah Manning, played by Tatiana Maslany, and her discovery that she has multiple clones, each also brilliantly played by Tatiana Maslany. I could spend paragraphs and paragraphs here extolling the virtues of the series, from the riveting characters, dazzling performances, solid writing, shocking plot developments, never-ending tension, amazing visuals, and so on. I will tear myself away from a never-ending stream of fan-girling, however, and mov ...more
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in Orphan Black by Gregory E. Pence is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early April. If I'm going to be honest, I must admit that....

I haven't yet watched Season Three of Orphan Black, so I breezed through the bits about that (and made a strict mental note to myself to watch it before I start the e-comic "Orphan Black #1: Helsinki"). Apart from those rushed-by segments, I reveled in Pence's use of psychology, sociolo
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was an insightful read into the hypothetical implications if 'Orphan Black' was to become a reality. The science and philosophical analysis is impeccable and extremely interesting. As a science geek, I loved the book. I found the references to philosophers hard to understand due to a lack of prior knowledge. I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in science, orphan black and philosophy. It opened my eyes to the realm of bioethics, something I had yet to read about. The only thin ...more
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm addicted to the show Orphan Black - I've even bought the graphic novels that are about Helsinki and the main characters' back stories, from before we meet them.
Seeing science applied and discussed, related to something I enjoy immensely, really brought it alive for me. It became less of an abstract, certainly. Then there was plenty to learn as well, and there's just so much that's great about this book. My interests are all over the place, and here's a book that manages to use all those sour

As much as I believe I'm a huge fan of this television series, apparently I'm not as geeky and intense as some people. At about 20% into the book I've realized that all the references to other books and movies about cloning humans - none of which I've read or viewed - are tripping me up and causing me to feel I'm not obsessed enough to appreciate the book. Abandoning at 20%. Perhaps I'll pick it up again at a later date.

I received a review copy from Net Galley.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it
I studied the history and philosophy of science for my doctorate. I really love the show and there were a few things that really bothered me. it turns out that they bothered me because they were not fully explained or fictionalized in the show as the author points out. It was a fun read for Christmas break and helped me remember some things I had forgotten. I had no knowledge of the science behind the show, this would be a great start.
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a great read for Orphan Black fans. Pence analyzes the science behind our favorite, show (most of which is fairly accurate), contemplates the psychology of clones (feeling pressure to live up to your ancestor, the bonds between "sestras," etc), and disabuses people of the notion that clones are less human than we are.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a lot more than I expected from it. It gave a lot of information and science that I wasn't quite expecting. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys Orphan Black, especially since the new season just started!

**I received a copy from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a review**
Frenchy Faith
Jul 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I ended up learning quite a bit from this book after a hesitant start. Even though the author often repeats himself and doesn't write in the most lyrical way , the pros of reading this book definitely outweighed the cons. It is after all a book about science so what could I expect!
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, riveting. I do not personally agree with all of the philosophy stated in this book, which tends to be more oriented towards Plato and Immanuel Kant than I would like. The bioethic topic is fascinating!
Apr 25, 2016 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
This was so badly written that I couldn't finish it. There was just no flow to the book at all.
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