Derk makes me uneasy

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Thu May 29 08:44:57 EDT 2003


On Thu, 29 May 2003, Sally Odgers wrote:

> > Has anyone else had this feeling?  I seem to remember someone being uneasy
> about
> > the griffins, for a start...
>
> My thoughts are that DL and YotG are games DWJ is playing with stereotypes,
> and so she has deliberately trailed this coat at us... by making a good guy
> into a Mad Scientist. I can't/don't take these books as seriously as I do
> some of the others.

	Hmm. I fall somewhere in between when it comes to Derk. He *does*
make me uneasy, for all the reasons Philip and Hallie have stated (and I
have to say the mating pair business really was incredibly icky, and I've
never understood why Derk seems to have drawn the line at human genes=
human status when he's also getting involved in giving human cognitive
abilities to non human animals, presumably though other methods than
adding human genes to the mix.) but firstly I regard him as another DWJ
Flawed Hero (and this as his Worst Flaw) and secondly I loved the way DWJ
used him to illustrate some of the problems with pursuing science for its
own sake, especially because I strongly believe that science *should* be
pursued for its own sake, but am very troubled by the moral consequences
of this. I mean, I think it's the right course of action, but mainly
because I think all the alternatives are much worse, and I think we need
to be very very careful about how this information we gather from the
pursuit of Pure Science is gained & used.  Shades of the Morality Of
Magical Coercion discussion. I think there's nothing wrong in having this
knowledge & gaining it might be very helpful but we have to be very
careful about how we use it & what we do to get it & how we deal with the
consequences of it. So seeing all this writ large in a comic fantasy novel
was something I loved. Though it would have been even better if Querida
had got to impose an ethical review panel onto Derk to tighten up his
procedures! :-)

	But yes, it does trouble me. Not as much as those people out there
in the real world now who think that a cloned person might not be a full
member of the human family trouble me (because I can put Derk back on the
shelf when I want to, but those people are real & can pass laws), but it
troubles me.

	Anna

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