Book Review: The Science of Orphan Black: The Official Companion

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah and Cosima and Josh Vokey in Orphan Black

The Science of Orphan Black: The Official Companion by Casey Griffin and Nina Nesseth is finally available! It’s a nerdgasm.

I loved reading this book! Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It took me back to so many plot points in the series and explained them in depth. I’m impressed all over again with the hard science behind Orphan Black. Human cloning itself is almost the only part of the series that hasn’t been achieved in reality.

Here’s my review of the book that I posted on Amazon. I gave the book 5 stars.

This book adds so much depth to the Orphan Black TV series. It very much helped me make sense of the changes in focus from season to season – for example, now I understand the season long journey into Brightborn. Now I see where gene editing fits into the whole. Now I understand how the children of the clones could have accelerated healing powers. And so much more.

The writers don’t dumb the science down. They use accurate vocabulary to explain all the concepts. The writing style is accessible and easy to follow, even when the science is complex.

The book covers everything about science in Orphan Black with real examples, historical references, and specific examples involving characters in the story.

Certain lines from the script, certain conversations, were used to explain in depth what was happening. A sentence from Cosima or a remark by Scott or Susan Duncan could result in pages of information about what it meant. I really liked how the words of the characters were used to drive the book.

Another nice feature was the photographs of the characters.

There’s a great glossary. The timeline at the end shows real science through the years with plot points from Orphan Black next to the corresponding scientific events and breakthroughs.

I’ll probably refer to the book again and again, because I’m going to watch all 5 seasons of Orphan Black again armed with my new knowledge and understanding of what’s going on.

I want to add to that review, because I wrote it on an iPad, which isn’t easy.

Other interesting things contained in the book include a foreward by Cosima Herter, the real Cosima. At the end there’s a long conversation between Graeme Manson and Cosima Herter. Both of them have such brilliant minds and such a far reaching grasp of the implications of the science and politics in Orphan Black. It’s a revelation to see how that translated into exciting drama on television.

There are case studies scattered throughout the book of all the main clones, including Tony. I found the information about Tony especially interesting. It explored what it means to a transgender man to inject testosterone – how it affects the body and what it can do to the body long-term.

The writers are obviously fans of the series. They loved the characters and the drama as much as the rest of us. They were able to inject some lightness into the scientific material by using humor and photographs. Clone club questions with answers were included, which were always interesting.

The case studies kept you grounded in Orphan Black while steering the conversation into all sorts of topics. For example, did you know what the significance of the birds on display in Rachel’s basement room on the island was? You will now.

Here are the major descriptions of what the chapters discuss in terms of science.

  • The history and science of clones
  • Nature versus nurture
  • One person, two cell lines
  • Synthetic biology
  • Brain injury
  • The clone disease
  • Prolongevity and regeneration

The topics listed were starting points. The science was far-reaching and relevant. Thank you to Casey Griffin and Nina Nesseth for filling the science nerd in me with so much knowledge.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Science of Orphan Black: The Official Companion”

  1. Thank you, Virginia. Awesome review as always. So much enjoy reading these. And are very much appreciated. As did mention on Twitter, just placed my paper book pre order. Hopeful will get it for Christmas, like you were planing binge whole series from Netflix first time with it.

Share your comments