Out of Copyright by Charles Sheffield

There is a school of thought that believes it is science fiction’s obligation to explore the social consequences of technology. I don’t think all science fiction fits nicely with that prescription, but it’s a good parameter. Especially for today’s story which deals with the pros and cons of cloning, especially when it comes to brilliant thinkers like Einstein, Tesla, and Oppenheimer.

Out of Copyright by Charles Sheffield was prescient for its time. The story was first published seven years before Dolly the sheep made headlines as the first cloned adult mammal. Our protagonist, Al, is on his way to the draft pick which determines which large companies will get the exclusive rights to clone famous geniuses in order to use their superior intelligence to solve problems. Its pretty telling that the problem Al’s company is currently solving is a completely ridiculous task of launching asteroids at Jupiter’s moon Io. Continue reading…

57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides by Sam J. Miller

Being a teenager is a tough business. I’m only six years removed from that shit show, but what a shit show it was. There are times when I wonder how any of us get out alive. Sure, being a teenager takes practice and most of us have it figured out by the time we hit 17, 18, or 19, but that’s not a guarantee. Maybe that’s why a lot of really great horror stories are written about high schoolers. Because egads, who doesn’t have a horror story from that time of their life?

Sam J. Miller’s 57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides is one of those horror stories. While its unusual structure might be off-putting for some, I think it works really well for the story. Written in list-form, with every item beginning with ‘Because,’ Miller achieves an almost hypnotic rhythm that pushes the story forward faster and faster with an unrelenting momentum.

Also, there’s a Carrie reference. Continue reading…