Clones edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann
This is another of the themed anthology series put together by Dozois and Dann. This time, as it says on the cover, the nine stories are (mostly) about clones. The collections that I have read so far in this series have varied between good and very good and this book hit the spot too. It did have a couple of weak stories but the stronger ones more than made up for that.
Of course, the stories are all available elsewhere originally published in various places between 1964 and 1990 but, unless you are an avid reader of all the magazines, most of the content will be new to you. Certainly, they were all new to me. As usual, the editors add to the anthology with informed comment on the authors. While that may not be so necessaary for the established big names, some of the authors will be less familiar and it is great to use the editors notes as a starting point for further reading.
The stories that I like the most here are the ones that explore the area of what it might be like to be a clone. How will clones differ from the rest of us. How will society treat them? Will a clone have full human rights? "Nine Lives" by Ursula K LeGuin, "The Phantom of Kansas" by John Varley and "Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang" by Kate Wilhelm all made interesting points about this.
The focus is on bio-tech rather than hard science so the book will not appeal to all sections of the SF community but is an interesting anthology. If you enjoy this book, you will of course want to follow up some of the editor's suggetions for further reading. Also, of course, it's worth checking out the other anthologies from the same editors. My favourite is Nanotech. If you'd like to read more on a similar vein, then check out the Ellen Datlow "Alien Sex" anthologies.
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Seven out of ten. Not the best anthology from these editors
List of contents.
LeGuin, Ursula K: Nine Lives
A clone, a group of ten genetically identical humans that has spent its whole life together is reduced to a single survivor after an accident. How will he cope with the loss? 8/10
Knight, Damon: Mary
Not really a story about clones but about forbidden love in a caste society. A bit schmaltzy for my taste. 4/10
Egan, Greg: The Extra
The super rich make "extras", brain limited clones to be used for transplants. One man decides to have his brain tissue swapped with that of one of his healthy young extras. But who is the person that awakes in each body? Good stuff indeed. 8/10
Sheffield, Charles: Out of Copyright
Large companies create new recruits by cloning great men and women from the past. The twist in the tale is that we have to guess the name of the narrator. Sadly all is telegraphed well in advance but (SPOILER WARNING) at least we know where fellow British SF author Peter Hamilton got the idea of bringing Al Capone back to life. 5/10
Varley, John: The Phantom of Kansas
In the future, you can download your mind to a computer so that, if you die, your mind can be inserted into a clone body. Murder becomes a near impossibility but what if one mind is in two bodies? 7/10
Haldeman, Joe: Blood Sisters
This story starts off strongly as an updated Chandler style detective and clones tale but in the end it seems to rather fizzel out. 7/10.
MacLeod, Ian R.: Past Magic
A woman loses her daughter and husband. The daughter dies in an accident and her husband leaves. She tries to recreate her daughter from a clone but without her husband, the clone will never develop into the daughter that was. He refuses to co-operate so what will she try? 7/10
Sargent, Pamela: Clone Sister
Another Clones'n'incest tale. This one was not much good, a great scientist runs off a series of copies of himself and has one of them done as a girl. The story said little and went nowhere.3/10
Wilhelm, Kate: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
A bleak tale of a future blighted by environmental collapse. When people cannot reproduce, they turn to cloning as an interim measure until normal reproduction become possible once more. But, will the clones want to go back to the old ways? When expanded into a novel, this tale was a deserved award winner. 8/10