Mr. Boy • 1990 • Posthumanism novella by James Patrick Kelly


Synopsis: Peter Cage lives in a 2096 New England town. He is one of the superrich, 25 years old and recurringly genetically transformed to the body of a 12 years old boy, therefore “Mr. Boy”.

His mother took the form of a statue of liberty, but due to regulations, she was only able to be as large as three third of the original model. Peter lives inside her.

He hangs out with his best friend Stennie in the body of a Stenonychosaurus, and his “jailbroken” AI-robot assistant Comrade. They participate in “smash-parties”, where they destroy valuable things and even kill pets.

Comrade brings him joy and danger with a stolen piece of death porn, an autopsy photo of a CEO. This brings him into the focus of a mysterious detective who starts to haunt him.

While Peter and his peers look down on working class members, calling them “stiffs”, he falls in love with such a girl. While the girl wants to flee from her own society, Peter fears that the nihilism of his own peers won’t do her any good. In fact, he wants to break out himself.

Review: Isn’t that society colorful? And also a good bit as horrific as “Clockwerk Orange”.

James Patrick Kelly is always worth reading – not only with his older works like time travel 10 to 16 to 1, but also in recent romance SF novelette Your Boyfriend Experience.

Dozois related this novella to Scott Fitzgerald’s story Rich Boy, starting with “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” Indeed, the lifes of those superrich people is strange and detached with the needs of the ordinary middle-class. Destroying antiques, taking ridiculous lifeforms – all that expresses an extreme form of nihilism out of boredom. It mirrors the ongoing trends of our own society where the spread between rich and poor is ever growing wider, and billionaires sometimes are nearly as detached from society as in this story.

The good thing is that the story takes a positive view in Peter’s coming-of-age plot. He slowly understands his own role for his mother, and his failing dependency on Comrade.

A highly entertaining, colorful setting with a plot that was far too predictable but nonetheless fun.

Highly recommended for readers interested in transhumanism and coming-of-age stories with lots of social commentary.

This is the fourth entry of this reading project

Meta: isfdb. I’ve read it it in the anthology Best of the Best Vol.2.

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