Dydeetown World
by F. Paul Wilson

Three related science-fiction stories involving a private detective, a clone of Jean Harlow, and illegal children called urchins who live in the abandoned subways below the future NYC. In this centrally controlled world Realpeople have civil rights, clones have the rights of chattel, and urchins have no legal existence and are never acknowledged in the state-run media. Realpeople are allowed to have one child each and then are supposed to be sterilized. Clones are sterilized as soon as they are brought out of their incubation chambers (born). Most Realpeople despise clones and are disgusted by the few who sympathize with them. Most people regard urchins as even lower than clones.

The detective “hero” shares the bias of the majority, although he doesn’t care to inflict harm on clones or urchins beyond what they get already from the state and society. In the first story the Jean Harlow clone hires him to find her fiancee who is a Realperson. The detective knows that her fiancee must be lying to her because no Realperson could feel romantic about a clone, but he can’t turn down the advance payment in gold that she offers him.

In the second story the detective (Siggy) is hired by a Realperson to find his daughter who is an urchin. He meets an urchin called B.B. who becomes attached to him and regards him as a hero and father figure.

In the final story he meets the person called Wendy who all the urchins in the city regard as their mother because she takes care of them. She turns out to be the same clone from the first story and the one who paid the Realperson in the second story to hire him. She gets arrested, but a reporter for the state-run TV news, who is secretly an urchin sympathizer, precipitates a popular uprising of Realpeople by broadcasting the story about the NYC urchins and their “mother.”

Year Read: 2001

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