Review: “Selfie” by Sandra McDonald

5 of 5 stars.

Humans make burner-clones of themselves in this tale of speculative fiction that ultimately asks what makes you you? Called selfies, these rented plastic clones hold the memories and feelings that one uploads and then downloads again to essentially allow someone to be in two places at once.

This is what teen-aged Susan does when she wants to visit Mom on the moon and Dad wants to take her on a time period vacation to 1899, California.

Dad and I visit the selfie showroom. The model we pick out has my same body shape. A half hour later she comes out of the imprint mold with my face, hair, birthmarks, and the tattoo Dad doesn’t know about. . . . “You don’t like her?” I ask. He shouldn’t. I’m the real deal and she’s going to be recycled at the end of his trip.

With Susan narrating, the reasons behind getting a selfie and the concerns all find voice.

And it all goes exactly to plan, really it does, until a micro-asteroid rips through the transfer shuttle’s engine, breaches the passenger cabin, and sends us screaming into oblivion.

The POV immediately changes to that of the selfie, which is also Susan. Limited in knowledge to what was uploaded, the selfie is not aware of Susan’s fate. The voice and attitude remain consistent with the original Susan due to the transference of conscience that’s complete except for the knowledge of Susan’s boyfriend Carlos, their first date and kiss, and Susan’s poetry.

My other me has thoughtfully loaded a backpack with our spare tablet, some snacks, and some jewelry. The funny thing is that I know I’m a copy, and that she’s technically the “authentic” Susan Ann Miller, but I don’t feel fake.

This tale turns on its head the moment the selfie wakes for the “first time”–a second time . . . . Time and identity start to muddle, as do the relationships therein. This tale is highly recommended.

“Selfie” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Lightspeed, May 2014.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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