Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

Holly wakes up in confusion, a chunk of her memory missing, only to find out she is a clone of herself, her original having murdered her husband. She is given less than a week’s time to track down her original, kill her, and take her place.

What do you get when two of the biggest authors in the speculative genre team up to write a science fiction story? As it turns out, something really, really mediocre.

With this story, I’m really wondering whether I’m being fair. It is a clear attempt to write something of a concept-based story in the tradition of, for example, Philip K. Dick. And Philip K. Dick stories can be really, really wacky. But I tend to give them a pass.

The Original, however, doesn’t get that pass from me. It’s really out there, and the wackyness just kept jerking me out of the story.

Who ever came up with the bizarre idea that, if you can’t track down a murderer, you clone them with extra combat abilities, and have them do it for you? Why would that work? And you don’t just consult with them on the way their original might think, no, you literally let them roam the streets freely and hope they stick to the assignment. In this case, it makes even less sense, because the clone has no reason to want to return to their previous life, since, you know, they murdered their husband?

I get that the premise results in some interesting scenes and questions but it’s just… and I struggle to find a socially acceptable way to put it – extremely far fetched.

The paucity of the main premise means that the other elements of the story that could be interesting (for example, the idea that everyone can ‘program’ the world around them to look like they want) are pushed to the background and don’t get the attention and development they need to make justify reading the story for them.

What is more, The Original is like anything by Sanderson, in that it just feels like film script sold as a book. It is very descriptive of environments and combat that you know would have an impact on the big screen, but which just don’t work on paper.

Yes, I can imagine it all, but it takes a lot of work and I find that generally I don’t bother perfectly visualising the relative positions of all combatants in a fight before they all drop down in an orgy of violence a page on. I get that the idea of the world being ‘blank’ is intended to be visually shocking, but if I’m not actually presented with white walls on a big screen to blow me away, all I can think is “why painstakingly keep everything white?”.

Overall, a story with a poor premise that tried to cram too much into too little space. A big disappointment. Little else to be said.

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