Never Let Me Go
At first, Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel Never Let Me Go seems like a novel about a woman remembering her childhood. But as narrator Kathy pieces together the memories of her past, a disturbing reality begins to emerge: she and her school friends were not like other children. They were clones, separated from the outside world and destined to donate their organs to cure the diseases of others until they “complete” — a sinister euphemism for dying. As an adult, Kathy faces the tragedy of her life with a matter-of-fact bravery. Ishiguro’s strange alternative reality is all the more unsettling for how utterly possible it feels.
Although the novel is technically science fiction, Ishiguro does not go into grisly detail about the cloning which brought its characters into the world. Instead, he focuses on the emotional consequences of what would happen “if just one or two things had gone differently on the scientific front”.
Introducing the world’s first monkey clones
Will humans be next? For the first time, Chinese scientists have successfully cloned two macaque monkeys — the first primates to survive the process. Now, “The genie’s out of the bottle.”
Gene scientists in secret talks on replicants
Last week, 150 top genetic scientists and entrepreneurs met in secret to discuss the possibility of synthesising a human genome from scratch. The potential consequences are mind-boggling.
Human organs grown inside sheep and pigs
A pioneering new procedure could allow scientists to grow human organs in animals’ bodies. It may lead to major medical breakthroughs — but can we justify risking the suffering of animals?
Kathy is 31 by the novel’s end and as the people around her disappear, she clings to her memories of them for comfort. But are these memories reliable? And is it wise to spend so much time thinking about the past?
New shock therapy used to erase bad memories
Scientists have found a way to delete traumatic memories using electric shocks to the brain. Would the treatment free us from psychological scars or mean losing vital parts of who we are?
How a ‘mind palace’ can improve your memory
The technique was invented by an ancient Greek and beloved by Sherlock Holmes. Now scientists say that anyone can create a “memory palace” to improve their recall. Is it really worth it?
World marks 100 years since guns fell silent
Is it time to stop remembering the war? Yesterday, bells rang out around the world to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. Some say it is now time to move on.
Growing up at Hailsham, the children were “told and not told” about their ultimate fate. Tommy argues that the information they were given was carefully timed, so that they were always slightly too young to understand it. Why is the search for the truth so important?
Victims remembered as Grenfell inquiry begins
What would “Justice4Grenfell” look like? The inquiry into the fire started yesterday with bereaved families remembering the 72 victims. Some desire punishment. Everyone wants the truth.
Fake news spreads ‘faster, deeper’ than truth
Is human nature to blame? A new study tracked the spread of falsehoods on Twitter and found that they are 70% more likely to be retweeted than truth. Why? Because lies are more surprising…
Hillsborough: 96 dead who were wrongly smeared
For 27 years, the police hid the truth about a disaster which cost 96 lives. Yesterday, a jury declared them responsible. Was their cover-up worse than their negligence?
The horrific acts in Never Let Me Go are very rarely questioned or rebelled against by the characters who endure them. There is hope that they might one day get a “deferral” — but when this proves to be false, Kathy and Tommy accept their fate and do their duty.
Healthcare is a right, cry UK and US activists
Tomorrow marchers in London will protest against health service cuts. US lawmakers are preparing to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. Do governments have a duty to provide healthcare?
Queen dedicates herself to nation for jubilee
Sixty years after becoming Britain’s Queen, the 85-year-old Elizabeth II has pledged to continue her life of service to her people. Royal experts say she will do her duty till the day she dies.
Your organs belong to everyone, says Wales
Doctors in Wales have been told to presume dead adults are willing to donate their organs unless they have said otherwise. But should our control over our own bodies be sacred after death?
Unknown to the students at Hailsham, the artwork they create is being used by their teachers to prove that they have souls. Art and poetry are the most important school subjects — and, so, Tommy is constantly frustrated by his lack of drawing skills. What makes art so powerful?
War artists expose true horror of warfare
To mark the centenary of World War One, Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has announced a major exhibition on wartime painting, film and photography. Does trauma breed creativity?
This could be the most expensive painting ever
Can a painting really be worth $80 million? Today, David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) is set to become the most valuable work by a living artist ever sold.
The misunderstood genius of Vincent van Gogh
Does genius go hand-in-hand with “some touch of madness”? Aristotle thought so. No one exemplifies the idea more than Van Gogh, who has a new exhibition in London. But is it really true?