Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski

Narrator: Steve Rimpici

Publisher: Stephen Kozeniewski (2017)

Length: 4 hours 59 minutes

Author’s Page 

William 790 (later known as Billy) is a good clone. He goes to work every day in his boring insurance sales job, has the same thing to eat every night, catches the ball game with the other clones, sleeps, and gets up and does it all over again. Each clone gets 1 year of life and then he gets slurried. It’s a world of monotony, Williams as far as you can see. Yet Billy manages to avoid getting slurried due to a freak accident. He then starts questioning his life and this entire existence.

I initially tried to read the ebook but then switched over to the audiobook. The beginning reminded me of that movie Ground Hog Day. Billy does the same routine again and again, even after the freak accident because that’s what his replacement would have done. So it was a little slow for me as I kept waiting for something more to happen. When I switched over to the audiobook, things moved along more quickly for me.

Billy has to get sneaky, something he isn’t programmed for. He learns about an odd building somewhere in the wilds in between two Williamsport cities. Yep. All the cities have ‘William’ in their name and everyone lives in the glorious country of Williamerica. Privately, this was all rather amusing to me since my husband is Bill. Ha!

OK, so Billy starts showing some initiative and the story gets more interesting. He stops to pee by the road and he happens to see this weird building (a windmill) and as he goes to investigate he finally comes across the cloneasaurus! Yes! Since this little guy is on the cover and in the title I really wanted to meet it. This reptile understandably freaks Billy out, since all animal life has been extinct for several generations of Williams. From there, Billy meets the William that made the cloneasaurus and then we finally get our one and only female, Willa.

The second half of the book was way more interesting than the first. Billy starts looking at the top of the hierarchy and how he can go on living. He’s also fascinated with Willa and some awkward conversations occur which are amusing to the reader but rather embarrassing for Billy. He’s never used his personal equipment for self gratification so he’s in the dark about natural procreation.

I was a little disappointed that Willa didn’t get a bigger role. She’s well read, educated in a biochemistry lab, raised by a man with radical political ideas. She has a lot of potential to be a force to change things. But then nothing other than being the romantic interest of the tale ensues for her. Sigh…

The ending was down right creepy. I loved the ending. It really made the book for me. Things don’t go as Billy had hoped nor how I expected things to go.

The Narration: Steve Rimpici was a really good fit for this book. He sounds just like a mild mannered boring accountant. He makes a really good William 790…. along with all the other Williams in this world. Honestly, it was probably a real challenge to come up with nuanced voices that all sound very similar and yet can remain distinct in a conversation. He did this with capturing each characters emotions. I found the conversations between multiple Williams easy to follow. He had a believable female voice for Willa.

What I Liked: The Cloneasaurus!; Billy finally rises to the occasion; Willa and her secret windmill laboratory; solid creepy ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: The beginning was a bit repetitious and boring; only 1 female character and all her potential is shoved to the side.

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Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerPrimeSuspectsWhy I Read It: I have a thing for clones, detectives, and the gritty noir.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who Do I Recommend This To: Blade Runner fans.

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Self-published (2012)

Length: 4 hours 54 minutes

Series: I really, really hope there will be more books in this clone-filled world that the author created.

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David Bagini is a cop, a smart ass, and also a clone in a city filled with clones. Once awakened, and once he gets over his surprised combative response, he learns that he is the 42nd clone of the original bad-ass super detective, David Bagini, Prime. 42 has been called upon to solve the murder of the Prime Bagini because the evidence points to one of his ‘brothers’ as the culprit. With cool tech and a few frenemies, David Bagini 42 will still have a difficult, twisted time solving this case.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. In a world where clones are dispensable and are little more than slave labor, David 42 must muddle his way through with less than cutting edge tech. He’s a copy of a younger, still idealistic David Prime, and hence doesn’t have some of the moral flexibility as some of his other ‘brothers’, such as the partyer, the drug addict, or even the religious commune dweller. For every clone working, the Prime gets a piece of their paycheck, allowing him or her to live in luxury. The clones live and mostly work in this section of the city, in low-rent crappy housing, and eating at cheap, vomit-inducing diners. The Primes live and play in Prime City, serviced by mask-wearing clones (makes it easier to ID them as ‘servants’). Most clones have to take on second jobs to have the money to upgrade their living arrangements, such as working as a mall cop. Yes, the quality of life for clones is not all that for the vast majority of them.

A great mix of humor, nitty-gritty, and tough cop makes this an exciting mystery adventure. David Bagini was once one of the best detectives in the galaxy. Not only does 42 have to go up against swamp thugs, a therapist, bureaucracy, and a steep learning curve, he also has to be far more clever than all the other Bagini clones; they all know the tricks of the trade – how to catch a murderer, but also how to avoid being caught.

Since clones are dispensable, they tend to have lots of casual sex. With that statement, you might think there was plenty of that in the book. Nope. Well, not in detail. The orgies are referenced just often enough for the reader to understand that is not what David 42 is looking for. Sadly, he is stuck in a society where casual sex is the norm and long-term, in-depth relationships are deviations. Not like the guy needs that added frustration to his already full agenda of catch the murderer(s) of David Prime and quickly before Those On High decide to scrub the entire Bagini line. Every. Last. Bagini. Clone. Yeah, gone for ever.

While the pacing of this adventure was pretty quick, David 42 was a multi-tasker, such as interviewing a potential suspect while taking the time to learn the latest police-issue firearm at the range. I really liked that 42 didn’t simply wake up and know everything; he had to learn, and learn quickly, as he went. The guns, the hoppers (flying vehicles), the scroll (kind of like a PDA but much, much cooler), and even all the things clones do to individualize themselves. There’s tatts, piercings, constantly changing hair colors, etc. David 42 had a whole culture to learn.

Of course, 42 is a nod to Douglas Adams and there are some jokes through the book that fans of Adams will get. Towel!

All that goodness in less that 5 hours of reading time. My one minor criticism, and it is small, is that I would have liked to see a few more female cops. The novel has female lovers, waitresses, therapists, and finally, 1 female cop. Most of the ladies had well rounded characters and individual traits and the main character did not treat them as sex objects. Yet, it is far future SF and I do like to think that certain jobs will balance out in the future – like lady cops and house husbands. Still, minor negative comment on an otherwise very worthy novel.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was a treat to listen to, pulling off the sarcasm, the asshole remarks, the tough cop that is secretly lost and trying to bluff his way through this freaking mess. Yeah, Kafer delivered.

What I Liked: The cover; clones!; disadvantaged cop in a tough situation; lots of cool tech; nitty-gritty feel to the story;the 42 reference (answers to everything); the ending; the narration was great!

What I Disliked: The story could have used a few more women in traditional male roles.

2014SFExperienceI’m taking part in The Sci-Fi Experince 2014 hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Swing by his place to see other SF reviews and posts. Anyone can join!

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