Adam’s Stepsons by M. Thomas Apple

four stars

adamDr. Johann Heimann’s research has been crucial in the creation of clones superhuman clones designed to be soldiers and killing machines. The clones have undergone intense programming and are referred to as “it”s–objects that exist to serve the United Americas’ army in the Mars Colony War, but Dr. Heimann can’t help but to feel an emotional attachment–especially because the DNA used to create the clones was that of his deceased nephew, who he raised as a son. As time goes on, it becomes apparent that these feelings of attachment may not be one sided. A clone known as Six (or Seth, as Heimann privately refers to him) begins to call him “Father”–a concept that should never have been encountered during his military training. In addition, memories that could not be Seth’s own begin to surface. Heimann advocates for the clones’ humanity and comes into conflict with the rest of his military colleagues. Meanwhile Seth begins to break rules and override his programming.

Apple engages with broader philosophical concepts and ethical debates concerning the rights of clones while also bringing up questions about artificially resurrecting lost loved ones (or at least something like them). He also touches on the psychological impact of beings that come into existence fully-formed, without experiencing the usual developmental process. However, he could have delved more deeply into these issues (the book’s short length would have easily allowed it) and only skims the surface of a variety of interesting issues. Ultimately, Apple’s grasp of the science fiction genre and the concepts involved make this a masterful novella with an ending that is sure to shock.

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