A Philadelphia judge has ruled that the book In His Image: The Cloning of a Man is a work of fiction, despite three years of insistence by its author and publisher that the book is genuine and the cloning really took place.

Immediately after the ruling, the author, David Rorvik, told the court that under certain circumstances he could get the father of the purported clone to communicate directly with the judge, and could arrange to have the "cloned" baby given a blood test. The blood test might demonstrate that father and child are identical in ways that they could not be if the child had been conceived and born normally.

The ruling and the response came in a flurry of action in the drawn-out trial. Three years ago, a British scientist sued Rorvik and his publisher for $7 million for defamation of character. The scientist claimed in the suit that the book was a hoax, that he had developed the technique of cloning mentioned in the book, and that Rorvik mentioned his name in the book without permission.

Judge John P. Fullam of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia said in the finding of fact handed down Feb. 2 that the plaintiff, Dr. J. Derek Bromhall of Oxford University, "had finally and conclusively established" that Rorvik's book "is a work of fiction" and that "the cloning described in the book never took place." He added that all the characters in the book, save Rorvik were fictitious.

A few days after the finding, Rorvik and his publisher made a motion to have it overturned. In that motion, Rorvik said the father of the child would agree to talk with the judge and agree, under elaborate guidelines, to have a blood test made. A blood test, however, may not give proof that the child was a copy of the man, some experts have said.

The judge is expected to rule on Rorvik's motion and the possibility of a blood test within two weeks.