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macs by Terry Bisson

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by Terry Bisson

• Word count: 3456
• Page count: 8

macs is a science fiction short story by Terry Bisson which won the 2000 Locus award and the 2001 Nebula award for best short story. It was also nominated for the 2000 Hugo award and was on the shortlist for the 2000 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award

macs is an unusual but deeply contemplative story. Usually I like to read and recommend science fiction short stories that have really cool gadgets or ideas, or are just plain fun to read. This one doesn’t have any cool technology, and is definitely not a feel good story. It consists entirely of dialogue between several people and an investigator. The people are telling the investigator about clones that were used to satisfy the Victims’ Rights Closure Settlement – wherein people get a clone of the person who was responsible for the death of their loved ones.

Though it is never explicitly mentioned, it is pretty obvious what the story is referring to – and whom is being talked about. Before you read it you may want a refresher on the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Beware – the dialogue conjures up some pretty grisly images, and there is some strong language, but I recommend this story solely on the issues that it forces the reader to think about – using clones to bring closure to victims’ families.

They all seemed the same to me. Sort of panicked and gloomy. I had a hard time hating them, in spite of what they done, or their daddy done, or however you want to put it. They say they could only live five years anyway before their insides turned to mush. That was no problem of course. Under the Victims’ Rights settlement it had to be done in thirty days, that was from date of delivery.

macs originally appeared in the Oct/Nov 1999 edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction. You can read a free HTML version at

If you like this story you can learn more about the author, Terry Bisson, on his website or on Wikipedia.

2 thoughts to “macs by Terry Bisson”

  1. Hey, uh, I didn’t see anything by Theodore Sturgeon. He is one of the classic sci-fi short story writers. And his piece “Baby is three” is considered one of the top 5 pieces of science fiction ever written. That part was expanded to become a book named “More than Human” which is one of my favorite books ever.

    P.S. I didn’t know where else to leave or send my comment, hope this is good.

  2. Thanks Borrego,

    I’ll see if I can find that story. Theodore Sturgeon is a great author that I haven’t reviewed on this site yet. Anybody know where I can read it?

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