It's the c-word, presumably, that has earned [Never Let Me Go] its place on the Clarke list, although it's a justification of 'WMDs-in-Iraq-therefore-we-invade' slenderness. Cloning in this novel means only two things. It means a certain difference between the protagonists and 'normal people': difference that is slight, in many ways, but felt profoundly by the individuals concerned. And it means death: the fact that these bright young people will, inevitably, have their bodies invasively compromised and their lives ended whilst they are still young. It may be that Ishiguro frames his fable as obliquely as he does in order to try and prevent it becoming too obviously an existential allegory -- 'for are we not all,' intones the pompous critical voice, 'in the same situation? Are we not all in a sense executed for a crime we did not commit?' Actually I'm not quoting criticus pompous here, I'm quoting Woody Allen's Love and Death, the bit where Boris is in the condemned cell awaiting execution for a murder he didn't commit ('the difference,' Boris observes, 'is that we all go "some time". Whereas I go at six o'clock tomorrow morning. It was going to be five o'clock, but I hired a smart lawyer. He got leniency.') I'm getting distracted; but there's a reason for that. That's what's missing in Ishiguro's treatment: comedy. Wit. Irony. Or, indeed, human warmth of any kind.Also, a rant about cats (which has got me seriously considering giving Accelerando a miss). Go read.