“Some of us remember book club, or as Aynsley called it, full-contact reading”
As a fan of Orphan Black and a proud English lit major, I’ve found a lot of the same themes and ideas in the show that I’ve seen in some of my favourite pieces of literature. There have been some blatant allusions, while there are other parallels that may have been entirely unintentional but are still interesting to explore. With that in mind, I thought it would be super cool to put together a cloneclub reading list made up of some really important literature that might spur some further thought in you on Orphan Black. It also might be a good next step if you want to continue with the ideas developed in Orphan Black and take the genre further. Also, everyone’s always looking for some good ol book recommendations right?
Below I’ve alphabetically listed some of the books of essential cloneclub reading. I’ve also included each book’s connection to Orphan Black and any analyses that have been written by cloneclubbers concerning it in the last little while. Each title also links to more info on that book if you’re curious and want to read up even more on it!
If there’s anything you think is worth adding, just message me and let me know! There are infinite corners of the literary sphere I’ve yet to uncover for myself, so if you’ve read something cool and see some connections, send them my way! The same goes for any analyses floating out there I may have missed. I’ll try to update this post regularly and keep a link to it off of my blog so y’all can access it.
Cheers cloneclub, and happy reading!
1984: (George Orwell): Surveillance, societal oppression, deception, loss of identity; I could go on, but these are the makings and foundations of any good speculative fiction. Big Brother is watching, or shall we say, monitoring you. And did I mention that the clones just so happen to be born in 1984? This one’s important guys. (x) (x)
Angels and Demons: (Dan Brown) The interplay of science and religion is the main focus of this novel, so if the contrast between neolution and the proletheans is your thing, this would be right up your alley. A literal literary puzzle that makes for light, fun, summer reading.
Anthem: (Ayn Rand) Another classic dystopian novella that should be on anyone’s must-read list. Ideas of loss of identity, clones, dystopia, control of knowledge and advancement….all that good stuff.
The Bible: I’m not saying that you need to go out and read the whole bible, but there is a ton of really interesting origins to tropes and names in there that bears reading into. The whole idea of Rachel Leah and Jacob and the handmaids and fertility and bearing children….it’s extra yummy. Throw in all of that fish symbolism and then basically anything related to the proletheans and you have a wealth of knowledge right there.
Brave New World: (Aldous Huxley) Huxley station? Aldous Leekie? Eugenics? “It’s nice to make a friend in the brave new world”? Yeah, there are so many connections. Like, so many I can barely list them all. Read the book, and then go read about the connections and have your mind blown. (x)
Fight Club: (Chuck Palahniuk) First rule of cloneclub? Don’t tell anyone about cloneclub. That’s just a passing reference, but the thematic connections run deep. Identity issues, impersonation, personality disorder, narcotic addiction…all of that runs wild in this novel. Check out the book and not just the movie for an extra level of deep shit.
Frankenstein: (Mary Shelley) We see much of Victor’s innovation and ideals reflected in Neolution, as well as the monster’s search for identity reflected in the clones. Leekie says “to engineer, divine” briefly when rehearsing his speech in 2x01, and that’s the exact view Victor takes, resulting in nothing good. By the end of season 2 I’m sure even more parallels will become apparent.
Her Fearful Symmetry: (Audrey Niffenegger) MIRROR TWINS. Jacq, who is credited as the queen of the mirror twin theory has said this is the only other book she’s found with mirror twins in it. That alone should spark our interest. (Mirror twin discussion (x))
Leda: (Aldous Huxley) Yes, Huxley wrote a collection of poetry titled after the Greek myth our entire overarching origin story seems to have ties to. If you combine Huxley and poetry and Greek mythology, you’re bound to get something great, and this is just the greatest. (x)
Never Let Me Go: (Kazuo Ishiguro) Clones who have their entire lives dictated by an overarching power. Need I say more? The parallels here basically write themselves.
Oryx and Crake: (Margaret Atwood) Explores genetic engineering, divine creation, the morality of science, self-directed evolution; basically everything we’ve come to know and love about neolution. Also there may or may not be clones.
Song of Myself: (Walt Whitman) We were all pleasantly surprised to see a fraction of a second of binary flash at the end of one of the first OB teasers we got back at the end of February. When that was translated, it was revealed to be a line from this poem. Further, the next seven teasers released all that week contained more lines from various sections, prompting a massive cloneclub uproar and sudden enthusiasm for poetry. (x)
The Children of Men: (P. D. James) fertility, identity issues, power struggles, societal control….Yet another staple of any good dystopian reading list.
The Handmaid’s Tale: (Margaret Atwood) Tons of symbolism of fertility, women’s rights to their bodies, control of creation of life, religious manipulation, indoctrination, identity issues, feminism, and oh, did I mention that the protagonist’s daughter was taken from her? (x) (x)