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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

“The Magic Bullet” by Brian Stableford

First appeared in Interzone. It won the the Interzone Readers Poll, reprinted in two genre retrospectives by Gardner R. Dozois, Donald A. Wollheim and Arthur W. Saha. From the collection, Sexual Chemistry and Other Tales of the Biotech Revolution.

Lisa Friemann, a police forensic superintendent and lover of Morgan Miller (famed geneticist), is called in to help solve the case of the shooting of Miller and fire-bombing of his genetic mice. Miller, unconscious and not expected to live, is plied with drugs to get him to tell what happened. Instead, he is cryptic. Only when he’s alone does he tell her the truth.

Commentary with spoilers:
Half of the mice were immortal. Their egg cells turn out to function like stem cells. The perpetrators intend to use this. Women, the tale suggests, are poised to become immortal; men, a thing of the past.

An intriguing hypothesis. However, an egg cell will only have half the chromosomes, a condition known as monosomy, which often produces disease, deformation and/or death. More of the element, hand-wavium, needed.

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