Flashback of a Flashback : Cloning Around
I’ve gone and sliced my thumb open today, so I’m pulling up an old Flashback for your enjoyment!
Your a girl who discovered another girl on the television that looked exactly like you. When you started trying to find out more, what if you found out everything about your life was a lie and that the truth might get you killed?
Do you remember
Anna to the Infinite Power by Mildred Ames (Scribner, 1981)
Twelve year old Anna is a math whiz who has a hard time relating to the people around her. When she spies a girl on television that could be her double and begins having strange dreams that seem like memories, she realizes that her life is not what she thinks it is. Through her persistence she uncovers the truth: she is part of an experiment, one of several clones of a brilliant scientist whose life ended far too son. But discovering the truth could put her and the other Anna’s in deadly danger–can they figure out how to survive? When the powers that created the girls discover that their carefully laid plans have gone awry they might just try to erase all evidence.
This was the first book on the idea of cloning I’d ever encountered. While the ideas expressed here are undoubtedly dated given our current technology and knowledge on cloning, it was an unusual story for middle graders when it was published. Set in a slightly “futuristic” society (supposedly the 1990s) it explored both the possible motivations and consequences of cloning. What identity meant and whether an entire person and personality could be recreated with the right combination of genetics and environment. Some readers may think immediately to the more recent cloning drama, Orphan Black a Canadian science fiction show that focuses on a cloning operation and one particular clone who discovers her identity.
The question of who gets to control life and whether clones are distinct, real, people is an ongoing theme. In Anna to the Infinite Power, the book concludes with hope, but not complete answers. In a genre of rocket ships, robotic technologies, post apocalyptic worlds and dystopias, cloning tends to get less play, but it is one that really gets into the core of human life, and what the consequences could be in applying our technology to it. Back at the time this book was written, clones were the stuff of pure speculation. Today we’ve seen clones of animals created–and the process of cloning more doesn’t seem so far away. While Anna’s story is too dated to fully resonate with today’s readers, I always look for new cloning stories in our science fiction.
Anna To the Infinite Power was also turned into a movie in 1983. It was never released in theaters, but did air on pay-cable service HBO. I swear it must have been on regular TV at some point, because I recall seeing a good portion of the movie. The ending of the movie stuck in my head for years and got me fascinated with science fiction about cloning and clones.
Anna to the Infinite Power (which I still think is an awesome title) was one of the first cloning books for middle graders–but there are plenty more out there, some of the much more current and up to date with the technology. All that considered, I still have a soft spot for Anna and this particular science fiction thriller. I hope some other fans out there might know of her as well.
Have your read or seen Anna to the Infinite Power? Comments welcome!