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The birth of Dolly, arguably history's most famous sheep (although, admittedly, there's not a lot of intense competition for that title!) early in 1997, lead to a flood of speculation in the media that the cloning techniques used to produce Dolly would soon be adaptable to produce human clones as well. "Hood," in fact, is probably too understated a word to describe the torrent of sudden speculation about the feasibility—and the imminence—of human cloning: "tidal wave" or "tsunami" might describe that torrent of speculation better, as cover stories about cloning appeared in Time and Newsweek and on the front page of nearly every newspaper in the country—and, in fact, around the world. Footage of Dolly the cloned sheep—and a cute little thing she is, too—appeared on practically every TV news show that night, again worldwide, and would be shown over and over again for days to come. The tabloids, of course, went totally insane.

Suddenly, the general public was aware of the possibility that technology might someday be able to produce human clones; and that it was not only possible that this technology would one day be perfected but, in fact, that it was fairly likely. That human cloning was not an issue that would arise in some remote, misty future, but something that might well happen during the lifetimes of many of the people now alive—perhaps, according to the most optimistic estimates, a breakthrough no more than a decade or so away. (According to the tabloids, of course, it was a capability that we already possessed, with sinister secret government labs busily churning out clones of everyone from JFK to Elvis.) Something that would have to be dealt with soon. By us. Suddenly everyone was talking about clones, and the morality and legality of human cloning was being debated endlessly—and often vitrolically—on TV and radio talk shows, and even thundered about from pulpits and by the Vatican. Publishers were suddenly inundated with proposals for clone novels, with one book editor of our acquaintance saying that he'd received a half dozen or more pitches on the same day for novels about cloning Jesus (an idea dealt with in SF all the way back in 1979, in Gary Jenning's "The Relic"), and no doubt the first cloning movies and TV movies-of-the-week are being rushed into production even as these words are being typed. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a sitcom about clones was in development somewhere right now.

We can't be too self-righteous about this, of course, since the book that you hold in your hands is obviously also calculated to cash in on this very craze—but we can say that if you really want to know about the potentials and dangers of human cloning, if you really want to get a forecast of the profound and widespread (and sometimes extremely subtle) impact that human cloning could have on human society, then you are far better served by spending your money on this anthology than by buying supermarket tabloids with lurid headlines about JFK's clone, or by plonking down ten dollars for a ticket to the first big-budget clone movie to make it out of the gate.

For the idea of human cloning is old news to science fiction writers, who have been speculating about it for more than twenty-five years now, long before the average person in the street had even ever heard of the concept. And during that time, those science fiction writers have worked out the implications of cloning for society (some of which are much more widespread and profound than anything speculated about to date in the public press), examined the impact that cloning could have on the lives of every one of us, in far greater depth and detail, with far more imagination and ingenuity, and with enormously more technical sophistication and clarity, than anything you're going to hear said on Geraldo or Oprah . . . or even on 60 Minutes.

So if you want to really explore the miracles and terrors that cloning could bring to our lives, and get an advance look at the pitfalls and potentialities ahead long before your neighbor has any idea what's about to blindside him, and if you want to be thrilled and elated and moved while doing so (because, of course, the colorful, fast-paced, and imaginative stories that follow were written to entertain, not to inform . . . although, as it happens, they also do a pretty good job of informing as well) . . . or if you'd just like to have a good read, a few hours of imaginative entertainment, then put down those tabloids, shut off the television, put your feet up, open this book—and enjoy. Forget about Dolly! You ain't seen nothing yet! You're about to be transported to worlds wilder than anything you can imagine—so far!

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