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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Ghola  
  A living, functioning person who is regrown or recreated from the tissues of a dead person.  

An interesting word; invented by Herbert. It calls to mind words like ghoul (reanimated dead person), ghost and golem (an artificial person made of clay, and then animated by magic). The ghola Duncan Idaho is one of the main characters of the story.

The Bene Tleilax are the only guild or group in the Imperium that uses genetics and gene-manipulation on human beings, and they are distrusted accordingly. They treat human flesh as raw material, building blocks for masterpieces nature never intended. There is an almost medieval flavor to the attitude against them; the forebears of modern doctors had to practice on cadavers in secret, because of religious prejudice against the desecration of the bodily temple.

It could not be Duncan, and yet it was.

..There could only be one answer; this was a Tleilaxu ghola, a being reconstructed from the dead flesh of the original. That original had perished saving Paul. This could only be a product of the axolotl tanks.

...The Bene Tleilax held little attachment to phenomenal nature. Good and evil carried strange meanings in their philosophy. What might they have incorporated in [Duncan] Idaho's flesh - out of design or whim?

From Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1969
Additional resources -

I can't really give more without telling one of the main themes of the story, but let's just say that the Bene Tleilax do not consider their Duncan Idaho to be finished. You get the sense that the Bene Tleilax are constantly researching and constantly testing to push the boundaries of what is possible with technology. Their only concerns about morality are their concerns about any tool that can be used to shape a person (or a ghola).

The word "ghola" may also have been derived from the Seljuk Turkish term "Ghulam." A ghulam was a slave (by definition, a non-Muslim) educated and trained for state service. This has interesting overtones, since it is assumed that the ghola is a tool of the Tleilaxu. (Thanks, David!)

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dune Messiah
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Dune Messiah
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

Ghola-related news articles:
  - Cloned Cats Have 9+n Lives

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