cover image Cloning Freedom

Cloning Freedom

Stephen B. Pearl. Brain Lag, $17.99 trade paper (556p) ISBN 978-1-928011-43-9

Life imitates art a little too closely in this frenetic space opera caper from Pearl (Havens in the Storm). Ryan Chandler, a veteran spaceship engineer, is cloned and forced to work as a technician on immersive entertainment programs, manipulating unaware casts of clones to create compelling reality show viewing for the wired-in audience. When Ryan learns that Rowan, one of the stars of the hit show Angel Black, is set to be killed off (literally), he forms a plan to extract Rowan and take off for alien space, outside of the United Earth Systems, where clones are treated as people, not property. He believes he has an ally in studio head Mike Strongbow—but Mike’s reasons for helping Ryan are not purely altruistic. And studio security chief Mildred Tallman is not about to let a pair of “fakeys” get away, even if stopping them starts an interstellar war. On their dash to freedom, Ryan and Rowan fall in love. Pearl plays a confident game with his multiple worlds-within-worlds, running parallel scenes from the entertainment programs and the bridge of Ryan’s restored spaceship to wryly comment on how, even when his characters think they are in charge, their strings are being pulled by others. Though the plot twists are at times too obvious, Ryan and Rowan’s flight and kindling romance is sure to draw in readers. (Dec.)