Short Story Review: “Iden-Inshi” by Greg Stolze

4 of 5 stars.

The best diary-entry fiction captures change in the narration and narrator over time, such as in The Color Purple and Flowers for Algernon. Here, a story deftly morphs from thriller with a sense of humor to a sci-fi horror over 4 months of entries. The change happens slowly and in the tightly realized voice of a scientist in unique circumstances.

A Western biologist has been kidnapped and forced to ply her genetic trade for the North Korean regime. The scientist in her drives her to record her experiments and theories through successes and failures in the lab despite her thriller-worthy circumstances. Perhaps her naivety and perceived notion of being indispensable allows a dry humor to infuse her earlier entries in her toilet paper journal.

[from 12/18/11]
I wonder how Kim Jong Un heard about me. There aren’t a lot of biogeneticists willing to stand up and say “Clones aren’t crimes against god, they’re just retroactive twins, calm DOWN Rick Santorum!” And to be fair, I never did say that. I just went ahead.

It says something very dark about our morality that the only people sensible enough to pursue human cloning are narco-billionaires and tinpot tyrants.

She’s been tasked with making human clones and carefully notes the results of weeks and months of gamete inserion, DNA subdivision, and implantation. The failures add up and her managers have some turnover to facilitate better results.

DNA subdivided and they insisted I implant it . . . Wants me to perform the insertion on a couple dozen ova, says we’ll try to implant the best 5-6. With an adequate rate of implantation, that could give us 2-3 deformed dictator clones dying before puberty.

11 out of 30 attempted insertions were successful, 4 of them looked like they just might be viable, one was pretty good. We’re starting the implantations tomorrow.

All 5 failed to implant.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I winked at one of the guards. He ignored me.

A new project manager, Kiro from Japan, takes over after his daughter is kidnapped forcing his compliance. He brings a mysteriously compact non-human DNA with him to try the experiments on. The success at all steps is remarkably high and seemingly more human with further development. Implantation happens in 29 surrogates . . .

The tone change is abrupt as Kiro and the Western scientist endure confinement and beatings to later find out that all 29 surrogates died horribly, hemorrhaging clone ova within days of implantation . . .

This tale appears in Whispers from the Abyss edited by Kat Rocha. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through I’d previously reviewed this author’s “I Saw the Light”, which was equally compelling.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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