Billy and the Clonesaurus tells the tale of William 790-6, a clone who lives in a town filled with other William clones, in a world filled with even more William clones. As with every other William clone, he is to be slurried, or decommissioned, on his first birthday, and replaced by the next iteration. When an accident happens at the slurrying plant with William 789 and 790 is given another day to live, he spends it with his replacement and starts to resent the idea of his imminent departure. Happenstance allows him to once again escape being decommissioned when his new iteration is tossed into the ‘whirling blades of death’ that are used to slurry clones instead of him and he is free to live for another year. But Will, as he and every other clone call each other, finds himself a bit more curious than the average Will about the world surrounding him and the reasons every other Will does what they do for the corporation that controls everything. 790 sells dental insurance, and every other Will does everything necessary to make life possible for everyone else in town. There are Wills who pick up the trash, there are Wills who run the gas stations, etc. They hang out in their off hours drinking the same beer in the same pubs, watching the same Rugby games every weekend. They are all the same level of docile worker doing whatever needs to be done to make the company profitable, and they have no reason to question why there are no animals and no one else left on the planet but other Wills, like themselves. But 790 is starting to get curious, and after hearing another Will talk about a delivery run to another town and spotting something off in the distance on the side of the road that looks like a windmill, he feels the urge to check out this anomaly and see what is going on beyond his guarded, safe existence. This leads 790 on a journey of self-discovery-learning why clones exist, why it appears that the exact same events are reported on at the same time every year, and what might have come before they came into existence.
Billy and the Clonesaurus is a dark comedy that tasted a bit like the movie Brazil in its own demented way. It is grim future that 790 lives in, and as William 790 starts to call himself Billy as a form of minor rebellion against the status quo, he begins to realize the depths of the mystery surrounding him and the rest of the Wills of the world, or so he believes. Escaping the town he lives in is only the beginning. Beyond that, he has several shocking revelations and dreams of something better…something approaching freedom, not only for himself, but for every other William.
While it may be hard not to laugh at the idea of such an obscene world, the thoughts of something like this occurring are also cringe-worthy and provide for good nightmare fuel. As more layers of the deceit that have been heaped on 790 and the rest of the clones are peeled back, there are plenty of reasons to feel both revulsion and depression, because while the world that Billy lives in is filled with clones, the depths of the depravity he faces is very much a human characteristic.
I’ve read the authors other works, both of which dealt with the undead. While this story shares little with those other books, it has the same razor sharp edges to it that don’t show very much remorse when you get cut by them. This is a trip into the Twilight Zone with a nod to the Simpsons with the story’s title. It’s probably not a tale easily digested by everyone, but one worth checking out if you like your futures grim, dark, and yet surreal and just a tad bit looney.
Billy and the Clonesaurus can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Billy-And-Cloneasaurus-Stephen-Kozeniewski/dp/192504789X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
Containment by David Gilbertson struck me as something halfway between a dystopian fairy tale and a grand psychological experiment.
We are introduced to Edward, the main character, who has lost his wife sometime back and is doing his best to take care of his young son on his own. When he finds out that a man with a very dark past has moved into his neighborhood, he becomes fearful for his son’s life and conveniently, it seems, stumbles upon an old army compatriot, Theodore, who has been tucked away from society and presumed dead for a very long time.
The two men begin swapping ideas with one another-Edward brings up the fact that it isn’t right that some dangerous person should be allowed to mix with decent folks. Thus begins these two men’s experiment into realigning the country (in theory, or so it seems) so that the undesirables live with one another and all the good people live together, safely removed from danger. They imagine rankings and qualifications based on a number of factors, including income, positive accomplishments, criminal record and other related factors. They disagree on some, such as health and race, with Theodore being the more extreme, but they are able to come up with a very detailed plan. The country will be split into fifty regions, with R1 being the nicest and R50 being where all the depraved criminals reside.
Little does Edward know that Theodore has taken this whole experimental process seriously and knows people in high places in the government who wish to implement this new plan. So over the course of the next year, R50 is built, an identification process is crafted for all citizens, and the government begins moving people into their appropriate places based on their ranking.
The story follows Edward in his journey of realization of what he has created, the fact that it is real, and the consequences based on his and Theodore’s actions.
This book is challenging for me to rate. It is a solid personal story of Edward, and the relationships he has with Theodore and his wife, Natasha, in particular. As a journey of self-discovery and realization it has some intriguing elements. As a dystopian story, it is more of a mixed bag, with it being interesting in theory and this is my reason for calling it a fairy tale at the beginning of this review. I grew up loving history, and later in life discovering alternate history, written mostly by historians who knew enough about real history to twist and bend it enough to make a different path an intriguing and plausible possibility. Containment dwells on our fears, especially in a post 9-11 world, of distancing ourselves from danger that it presents an interesting topic, but I felt there were far too many factors not considered and elements left by the wayside for this to ever be plausible. In theory or as a make believe story with a moral to it? It packs an emotional punch. And yet…the country in question is nameless and has a convenient round numbered population, giving it a more classroom element to it, rather than a reality. The discussions between Edward and Theodore and then later between Edward and Natasha have that classroom/theoretical element to them. Even with the efforts of the author to cover quite a few bases, there is much left to chance and some elements of society left off the table completely. To transition these theories into reality for this tale, several convenient coincidental meetings of people occur and drive the tale along. So once again, this story works in theory-the idea is terrifying. But put into practice, it became somewhat less than believable to me.
I did enjoy this story. I felt that it left off a little abruptly, which might mean that a sequel is in the works. It works as both a personal tale of discovery for Edward and as a fable of government control gone wrong. It just misses a step or two when it comes to transitioning this new world order into something that has a possibility of becoming a reality.