Soulcatcher by James Patrick Kelly; a review


A week ago, I read James Patrick Kelly’s short story “Soulcatcher” appearing in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014, edited by Rich Horton. It’s nice to read. My new glasses make it possible, of course. More than that, I miss the hunt and chase of short story.

Short story is wonderful. It gets to the point extremely fast and by necessity, does not fuss about. “Soulcatcher” is no exception. It’s a compelling story in five pages.

I like Kelly’s story as it deals with something my story does as well: clones. Clones are a hallmark of science fiction. Kelly is telling the story of two clone sisters.

The difference between my story and Kelly’s, other than mine’s a comic and not short story, deals specifically with clone actions and motivations. Kelly’s clone is working to save her sister and my clone is working to escape its programmed role in society. Small potatoes. Both clone characters deal with the issue of freedom. Klary, Kelly’s clone protagonist, has spent her entire life to free her clone-sister, Janary, at great expense, saying “Janary is free . . . But the price of all those years of suffering must be accounted for. Not only Janary’s, but hers [Klary’s]. Their two wasted lives” (pg 18-19). The price of life, a free-life, is everything to Klary, including the possible hatred of her sister. Freedom is everything. Everything to a clone.

My clone, Savannah (pictured above), has a similar problem. As a manufactured person, she will do anything to be an individual and not part of the galactic technocratic machine.

To me, clones are a metaphor for slavery and slaves. As manufactured persons, they are programmed and engineered as if they were machines, but with human creativity. A caste of subhumans existing a bare step above robots. Slaves do anything to gain freedom. So do clones. Kelly’s clone in “Soulcatcher” does nothing except what a slave is obliged to: seek freedom.



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