A tale of human dignity
- Cloning Freedom
In the early 21st century, Rowan is fighting a secret war against alien pirates bent on subjugating all of mankind.
At least, that's what she thinks. In reality, it's a thousand years later, Earth has long been part of an interstellar and interspecies republic, and she's a character on Angel Black, an e-entertainment that allows viewers a complete sensory experience through her perspective. Who needs actors when you can clone famous performers and splice in some alien DNA? Since studio clones have no rights, their lives and experiences can be tailor-made for the program.
It's just too bad the clones don't know that.
Ryan Chandler was a decorated war hero until he was cloned to save his life. His career options died with his original body and the best job he can get is a technician on Angel Black. He's planning to escape to a newly colonized system when Rowan is scheduled to be killed off.
With help from unexpected allies, Ryan stages Rowan's rescue, but getting her off the set is only the beginning. To succeed, they must evade a manhunt supported by the state that fears Rowan's liberation might be the triggering event of a clone rights movement that could cost the establishment billions and shake the foundations of human society.
Can two clones find their freedom in a society that treats them as second-class citizens?
Publisher: Brain Lag
Start PG 87 as they are driving cross country on the colony world Gaia to escape the set region.
Rowan shook her head. She couldn’t believe it, wouldn’t believe it. It was too big, though oddly it made sense of so much. Taking a deep breath, she focussed on a minor point, hoping that if she took it in little bites, she could wrap her brain around it. “Why the early twenty-first century?”
Ryan manoeuvred around an area of sand that would show his tire marks. “By the mid-twenty-first century, any university lab would have had the equipment to spot some of the control vectors we use. They couldn’t make complex nano-bots, but they could spot them and get a good idea of what they were for. The clones have to be kept in the dark for the system to work.”
“You are a real bastard!” Tears came to Rowan’s eyes. “We’re people! You turned us into puppets.”READ MORE
“Rowan, understand this. You aren’t a person, not on this world. You’re studio property, and I’ve stolen you.”
“Stardust! You can’t own people, that’s sl--.”
“I know that! They don’t admit it though. Rowan, you were grown in a tank until your body was fifteen years old. Your memories were compiled out of archives of other clones’ experiences, then imprinted on your brain. The process took less than a year.”
“Less... That time I fell off the horse, and my dad picked me up and put me back on it so that I wouldn’t be afraid of them?”
“Stock file. I don’t know the code designation, creation wasn’t my department.”
“When Anitose saved my mom from cancer by making her a cyborg?”
“Your mother was a perfectly healthy clone, except for the studio’s tinkering. I wasn’t in on the start of the series.”
“She suffered so much. She hated herself for so long because she wasn’t totally human.”
“That’s e-entertainments. I don’t make the rules.”
“How could you?” Tears trickled over Rowan’s enraged features.
Ryan bit his cheek, then spoke softly. “I couldn’t... not anymore. I couldn’t let you die.” He rubbed the back of his neck; the muscles were like ropes. “Look, there’s over a thousand years of catching up you need to do, and we aren’t going to do it today. Go to bed, let your body heal.”
“I can’t sleep with all this going through my head. I can’t.”
Ryan stopped the ATV, pulled his hand-held from his pocket and pointed it at Rowan.
“Don’t you dare, you son of a bitch! I--.”
“Goodnight, Rowan.” He hit a button.
“Ryan, you bas--.” Rowan slumped in the co-pilot’s seat.
“It will be better soon, I promise.” Ryan carried her into the troop compartment and lay her on her billet. He paused, staring at her. “Don’t hate me. I’m just another fakey trying to get by.” He kissed her forehead before activating the retaining field and returning to the bridge.COLLAPSE
Booklist on Booklist wrote:
Life imitates art a little too closely in this frenetic space opera caper from Pearl (Havens in the Storm). Ryan Chandler, a veteran spaceship engineer, is cloned and forced to work as a technician on immersive entertainment programs, manipulating unaware casts of clones to create compelling reality show viewing for the wired-in audience.
When Ryan learns that Rowan, one of the stars of the hit show Angel Black, is set to be killed off (literally), he forms a plan to extract Rowan and take off for alien space, outside of the United Earth Systems, where clones are treated as people, not property. He believes he has an ally in studio head Mike Strongbow—but Mike’s reasons for helping Ryan are not purely altruistic. And studio security chief Mildred Tallman is not about to let a pair of “fakeys” get away, even if stopping them starts an interstellar war.
On their dash to freedom, Ryan and Rowan fall in love.
Pearl plays a confident game with his multiple worlds-within-worlds, running parallel scenes from the entertainment programs and the bridge of Ryan’s restored spaceship to wryly comment on how, even when his characters think they are in charge, their strings are being pulled by others. Though the plot twists are at times too obvious, Ryan and Rowan’s flight and kindling romance is sure to draw in readers.
"The world Pearl has created in Cloning Freedom is rich, original, and immersive, sometimes challengingly so. Readers who are up for the challenge of navigating both the massively complex alien society and the complicated, multilayered plot will be rewarded with an intriguing reading experience."