A Fistful Of Clones by Seaton Kay-Smith (book review).

April 6, 2015 | By | Reply More

At twenty-six, Henry is in a sorry state. He’s just been fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend. He’s got enough change in his pocket to buy an apple and, wouldn’t you know it, the apple is tasteless and floury. Desperate for a payday and a life, Henry answers an advertisement he finds on a telegraph pole for medical testing. Cash up front, no questions asked. Turns out, the ‘no questions asked’ policy extends both ways, which should have been his second clue that Dr. Efflund’s operation is a bit dodgy. The first clue is the location: an abandoned mill.

AFistfulOfClones

After delivering samples of his hair, urine, blood and semen, Henry is paid and sent off. A few days later, Dr. Efflund calls to say there is a problem. They used Henry’s samples to create seven clones, who have now escaped and they’re prepared to pay Henry more cash to track them down and kill them. Henry doesn’t take the offer at first. He doesn’t fancy himself a murderer, even if killing himself could be called suicide. But after one of the clones cleans out Henry’s bank account, he’s once again left destitute.

So begins the business of tracking and killing himself. As time passes, however, the clones diverge from the template, becoming more individual. Killing them doesn’t really feel like suicide. In fact, it never really did.

A Fistful Of Clones’ has a fun premise and Henry’s antics are amusing. Had he been a more mature and developed character – someone I could sympathise with – his journey might have been more poignant. As it is, the story has little meaning. After killing himself five times, he does invest in a little self-revelation. Seeing as he’s heading toward his late twenties, it’s about bloody time.

Granted, I don’t think the book is meant to be Kay-Smith’s version of ‘Siddhartha’, but the liberal sprinkling of literary references give the feeling the author is trying for something deeper or maybe I missed the point there. Perhaps he’s taking the mickey. Then again, if the writing had been more mature and less bogged down with cliché, I might have got that point.

Henry’s story should be funnier and, if I were twenty-six and partial to boxed wine, I might have thought so. But, by that age, I’d already grown up. So I looked upon Henry as someone who really needed to find himself here and he does try. But Kay-Smith’s narrative style keeps Henry locked in a cycle of befuddlement. Again, smarter writing and deeper characterisation would have made this book funnier and more emotionally charged.

Doesn’t help that ‘A Fistful Of Clones’ reads as if the publisher forgot to edit and proofread the manuscript. The copy I purchased from Amazon, presumably the final, polished product, is so full of errors – grammar, spelling and simple proofreading mishaps – I might have been reading an uncorrected ARC. This seriously detracted from my enjoyment of the story. I liked the premise enough to keep going to the end and enjoyed the showdown in the mill. Kay-Smith has a good sense of placement and choreography. But and this is a pretty big ‘but’, we never find out why Dr. Efflund made the clones. The glib answer, ‘for science’ isn’t enough, in my opinion.

Finally, there are too many other unanswered questions. How did Dr. Efflund grow seven fully mature clones in only a handful of days? Where did Henry’s personality and memory come from? His blood or his semen? Is Henry really stupid enough to believe killing his clones is suicide rather than murder? And, this is the biggest question of all, why did they have to kill the clones? Why not just round them up (with the tranquilliser darts) and carry them back to the mill?

I might have been looking for more out of ‘A Fistful Of Clones’ than the author intended to give and that happens. Not every book is for every reader. That being said, I cannot recommend this one, if not simply for the sake it’s so riddled with proofreading errors it shouldn’t be available for purchase.

Kelly Jensen

April 2015

* June 2015, ETA: Publisher has addressed the proofreading errors in this ebook.

(pub: AUS Impulse, March 2015. 194 page e-book. Price: $2.99 (US), £1.99 (UK). ASIN: B00S47T19C)

check out websites: www.harpercollins.com/ and http://seatonkaysmith.com/

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Category: Books, Scifi

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