Star Wars Clone troopers CloningThat’s a very interesting cloning machine you’ve built there. I know, I know, soon you’ll have that clone army complete, and you’ll show them–you’ll show all of them! But hey, why don’t we take a deep breath and think this through for a minute before you pull the lever? After all, you’ve put a lot of work into this thing. It’d be a shame to screw it all up now just because you were a little too impatient. And lucky you, I’ve got 4 suggestions that’ll help make sure these clones don’t come out like Bizarro.

4. Choose Your Cloning Stock Carefully

Star Trek The Next Generation Cloning

You should probably get their permission first, too.

So, I think we both know making a clone Hitler is a bad idea. Obviously. But there’s more to choosing your cloning stock than just ruling out the obviously stupid options. Cloning yourself is a tempting choice, sure, but think about why you want to clone yourself–you’re clearly a little narcissistic, dude. No offense. How do you think clone-you will react to finding out he’s a mere knockoff? That might not end so well, and the last thing we need is a fight to the death between the real-you and clone-you, and then we have to sit there and wonder forever if it was REALLY the original who won, never quite sure which it was. And if you’ve got hundreds of clones of yourself, who knows how many times we’ll have to go through this whole rigmarole. The odds are gonna catch up to you eventually.

Instead, let’s think of some good people to clone. Good genes, strong and smart enough to follow orders without being so smart they try to launch a coup.  How about… nah, I’ll let you decide. It’s your project, after all.

3. Regulate the Aging Process

Rick and Morty cloning

Sometimes being a different age is the whole point, though.

Alright so unless your plan is running off a 20+ year schedule, you’re going to need to get these clones to adulthood fast. This isn’t such an easy task, and even for clones growing at an accelerated rate, that still requires an enormous allocation of resources. Just think of the clone facilities on Kamino, for example. And remember, you don’t just have to speed up their aging, but you also need to be able to turn it off, too, so that you don’t end up with an army of 80-year-olds after a month of global domination.

But there are other things to consider as well–you’ve now cut their lifespans by a few decades, which could impact the part of the plan after your clone army conquers the world. What’s that? You’re just going to make new ones? Well, that’s okay, but your clones might not be very happy with this part of the plan. You can deliberately ensure they have lives too short to pose a threat to you, but it’s important not to forget: clones are people, too. They don’t just suddenly lose their capacity for emotion and personalities when you clone them. And they aren’t robots; we already know why that’s a bad plan. While your clone army might have some built-in loyalty from your accelerated learning course (you did design one of those, right?), if you want to keep it, you’ll need to offer them something, too. Consider leaving them a short retirement once they’ve outlived their usefulness to you. After all, you’ll have the resources of the entire planet at that point; spending a little to keep your clones happy will be a valuable investment in the long run.

2. More Isn’t Always Better

The Klingon equivalent of Jesus was a great target.

The Klingon equivalent of Jesus was a great target.

Then again, maybe a clone army’s the wrong approach. This cloning technology can be used in a lot of ways. Like, just an idea, but you could clone up some copies of yourself (or a compatible donor) to replace failing organs or missing body parts.

…Okay, so you’re really set on this conquer-the-world thing, huh? How about this: instead of cloning an army, you could try cloning important people instead. Like the first emperor of the Klingons. If you can create an identical clone that’s been educated to your own specifications, s/he can begin implementing your policies immediately, without the hassle of a bloody uprising! This is basically what all those body-stealing aliens do, and it tends to work out okay for them. You won’t even have any of the loose ends that typically give the aliens away.

1. Preserve the Original

Jango got a pretty sweet pad when he was acting as the DNA source.

Jango got a pretty sweet pad when he was acting as the DNA source.

Fine. Make a clone army. You’re very stubborn, you know that? I mean, I should have expected this, but still. If you’re so set on that approach, I only have one tip left to give you.

Keep the original happy at all costs!

Cloning is a tricky business, you’ve gotta realize that by now. One of the problems with using clones is that the cloning process isn’t perfect; telomere shortening is a very real problem, and if you start off cloning an adult then you’re going to be at a disadvantage from stage one. Making a clone of a clone is like photocopying a document that’s already been copied, if sci-fi’s any indication. After a few generations, the document is nearly unreadable from all the artifacts and decay that has occurred. The same goes for your clone soldiers, but there’s a way around it. If instead you just keep cloning the original, then all your clones are effectively first-generation, and they won’t get progressively worse as time goes on. That’s why keeping the original alive and well is critical–if your source dies, then you’ll have no way to avert this degradation. Even saving their DNA won’t help you for long. And wouldn’t that be a shame?

That’s all for this week. Any cloning ideas you’ve got floating around? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @RetroPhaseShift. If you enjoyed the article, please share it!