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REVIEW: Solomon’s Paradox – Kelly McClymer

Solomon's Paradox

About The Book

A mother must deal with the shattering reality when science and the courts give her dead son a chance to tie up loose ends in the body of the friend who accidentally killed him.

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The Review

Solomon’s Paradox is short – just thirty-three pages – but damn does it pack an emotional punch. McClymer calls it “Mom Sci-Fi,” but I think that sells the story short. Sure, the protagonist is a mother, but this is social sci-fi at its best, taking a fascinating idea and extrapolating it in the most personal terms.

The story opens with Karen welcoming her son Jake home. Jake, who was killed in a car accident when his best friend Ben crashed the car they were in, texting and driving. Jake and Ben are lab rats for a brand-new kind of criminal punishment—excuse me, atonement—where Jake’s personality has been downloaded intoto Ben’s body. He has a year to wrap up all the loose ends in his life, while Ben’s mind is banished to limbo.

The story doesn’t go too far into the mechanics of all this—for instance, we never find out exactly how or why the doctors had a copy of Jake’s personality to download into Ben’s head in the first place.

Instead, McClymer delves deep into the emotional and mental ramifications of this new technology, and how it impacts everyone involved.

Karen is angry—justifiably so—at having to go through with this experiment her eighteen-year-old son and his best friend agreed to. She has to let a stranger come live with her for a year, a stranger with her son’s thoughts and likes and habits.

Jake is different. But inside he’s still the child she raised, and she starts to see this in little ways.

Nancy, Ben’s mother, is broken-hearted. She’s losing her son for a year, and has had to deal with the fact that his actions resulted in the death of his best friend.

And Jake’s not happy either. His old friends at school are either weirded out about him, or angry with him for taking Ben away for a year.

I won’t get into the whole soul thing. I mean, Jake in this story is basically a copy of the “real” jake – it’s the same issue I have with Star Trek transporters and personality uploads to virtual worlds.

Suffice it to say, this Jake becomes real to Karen, and who am I to say that’s wrong? Over the course of the story, she rides roller coasters both real and emotional, and although I won’t ruin the ending for you, I was very satisfied with how things ended up.

Solomon’s Paradox is a powerful, emotional roller coaster ride that drops you into a not-so-distant future where you’re forced to confront our own mortality, challenge its limits and imagine the new ways technology might provide us to atone for what we’ve done. McvClymer hooks you in and never lets you go until the end.

It’s a ride I feel fortunate to have taken – a story that will stick in my head for a long time.

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