Search This Blog

Friday, May 16, 2014

"The Eichmann Variations" by George Zebrowski

First appeared in Michael Bishop's Light Years and Dark.  Reprinted by John Gregory Betancourt George Zebrowski.  Up for Nebula and Locus awards.


War criminal Otto Adolf Eichmann is cloned, each given the original's memories.  Each are guilty in thought, but innocent in deed.  Ten Eichmanns are killed every hour, watched by the original.  They will kill up to six million or until ...

Commentary/Analysis (spoiler hint):

This story suggests one does repent except the story keeps going.  Is the story asynchronous? or does that mean he didn't really repent? or does that mean his tormentors didn't actually hold true to their word that they'd stop?

"The Eichmann Variations" is likely to make you uncomfortable.  Even one clone points out that his tormentors/executioners are similar to the Nazi SS Germans themselves, albeit each clone bears the guilt of thought crime if not actual crime. Is this a story of vengeance? justice?  Or just a story to make you question your ethics?

The story suggests that all relatives are guilty, so all Germans are guilty of the Holocaust.  New scenario:  A grandfather (with ten kids who had ten kids themselves and a few great grandkids, so 100+ direct relatives) kills a man.  Therefore, every child down to the infants are guilty and deserve death?  While some may feel this way, I am not aware of any current justice system that operates under this belief, so the majority of humans may not agree.

Moreover, identical twins are not the same--no matter how closely they resemble one another.  They start with the same genetic material but the process of cell maturation and how those cells tell each other what to become makes each twin different.  Most of us have met identical twins who get angry when they're confused with their twin.  Even with the same memories inside, they are technically different.  Furthermore, they could not have been raised identically in the same family or in the same country or even in the same historical time frame.  Is there a twin study that shows 100% correlation between twins that some trait has to be inherited?  Usually, it's a large or small percentage showing the influences of nature vs. nurture.

Likely, most victims were satisfied with the death of those actually responsible.

I'd have liked to have seen the experiment attempt to see what it takes to make a unrepentant man repent.  Perhaps that went on behind the scenes, outside of Eichmann's interest as a POV character, having rejected every overture of peace.  But that'd be a different story.

I'm not sure what to conclude although it has spurred me think more deeply about biological guilt.  No wonder every magazine rejected it, yet readers and writers nominated it for awards.  It's the kind of story that sticks in your craw or your cud, so that you have to chew and chew on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment