Rorvik's ficticious clone.
the well respected science writer David
published his controversial novel In His Image: The
Cloning of a Man. The book, which Rorvik claimed was
true, chronicled the fictitious story of Rorvik's
assistance to a rich man who employed a scientist to clone himself.
In the novel, Rorvik claimed he was contacted by a wealthy man who, unmarried, desired himself to have a son. The man asked Rorvik to find a doctor who was willing to clone him for a payment of over one million dollars. Rorvik agreed to assist the wealthy man and found a doctor willing to undertake the difficult procedure. Using the technique that had been successful in cloning frog embryos, but never from adult frog cells, the doctor transferred the nucleus of one of the millionaire's cells into a donated egg cell. As an embryo began to develop, it was implanted into the uterus of a young woman, who, according to the story, gave birth to the man's clone in December of 1976. The details of the story were sketchy. The characters were anonymously named. The millionaire was referred to as "Max," the doctor as "Darwin," and the surrogate mother as "Sparrow." Supposedly the cloning took place in secret on a tropical Pacific island controlled by the millionaire.
The fantastic tale, which was astonishingly believed by many readers at the time, caused an uproar in the scientific community as biologists tried to determine if the book was a hoax. Little information could be found to verify or refute the events that Rorvik claimed were true. Rorvik's publisher, J.B. Lippincott even stated that it was not sure if the story was true of not. Weeks before the book was released, the New York Post printed an article that a human had been secretly cloned, amplifying the effect of Rorvik's story. Also, it was highly unlikely that Rorvik, a distinguished young writer, would risk his entire career by making up the story and passing it off as true.
The public also reacted strongly to Rorvik's book, which became a national bestseller as a non-fiction title. Public fear of the growing power of biotechnology and genetic engineering grew. Ethicists spoke out against the expanding reaches of biology. Scientists tried to assure the astounded public that human cloning had not taken place. Despite the fact that the story was made up, Rorvik's book brought to the center of public debate ethical issues regarding genetic manipulation and the growth of biotechnology. The incident left a lingering public fear of and distrust for the work of scientists.