Short Stories by Tory Hoke

Title: The Baby Mimic

Published: August, 2013 in Crowded Magazine

Genre: Science fiction

Length: 17 pages

Setting: a city in a near future Earth

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: A couple is looking to adopt a young child and decides to take part in a pilot study on attachment, in the hopes that they will get “prioritized for child placement”. The mother is fitted with a vaginal ring to monitor and control hormone levels, and they receive a neonate mimic device. After simulating labor in the mother, the couple is given the mimic, which acts like a normal baby. They bond with the mimic and are devastated when they are told the experiment is ending a week early. They try to recover the mimic, and follow its cries to the Reassignment room, where they find a ten-year old boy waiting for them who looks strangely familiar. The mimic was modeled on this boy, who had picked the couple to be his parents. They transfer their love from the mimic to the boy.

Final thoughts: A fascinating twist on adoption that I didn’t see coming. Instead of the parents picking out the child, the child was offered the chance to pick out the parents they wanted. The Institute just had to convince the couple that an older child would be acceptable, and it did so by using the neonatal mimic device. It was a bit of a bait-and-switch, but the couple knew going in that they couldn’t keep the mimic, and they got what they were promised – prioritized child placement. Loved the ending, which really made me thing. I found the whole story interesting since my family had adopted multiple children when I was a teenager. This one will stay with me.

Title comes from: I suppose “neonatal mimic device” was a little too scientific to draw the reader in, so the author switched it to baby mimic.

if-logo-headerTitle: The Demeter Gyro Disaster

Published: November, 2013 in Isotropic Fiction

Genre: science fiction

Length: 8 pages

Setting: the Demeter Station, future space

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Dennis is in love with the android Sonia. He sabotages the graywater filter so he can get some alone time with her, but there’s an emergency on the station as she’s fixing the filter. The lifeboat leaves without them, and they have to make their way through the crumbling station and jump through space to the lifeboat to be saved.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t as impressed with this story. There’s a bit of contrast between how a human responds to an emergency and how an android responds, and lots of trying to get somewhere safe. Nothing too thought-provoking.

Title comes from: The gyros on the Demeter Station were destroyed, which is what caused the disaster Dennis and Sonia were fleeing from.

header-starsTitle: Shaka Bars

Published: May 2013 in Luna Station Quarterly, which you can read online

Genre: science fiction

Length: 14 pages

Setting: Earth, present day

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Bree is overweight and trying to find the right diet, pill, or nutrition bar to help curb the beast inside her that keeps her eating when she knows she should stop. She finds Shaka Bars at the local convenience store and discovers they are the answer to her prayers. They taste delicious, are extremely filling, and help the pounds just melt away. She’s hooked. She even meets a man when they share the last of the Shaka Bars from the store (before their ordered bars come in the mail). When they have an opportunity to go visit the Shaka Bar factory on the Big Island of Hawai’i, Bree and her new boyfriend, Bob, don’t hesitate to accept. Once there, they are invited to stay as long as they want, and are living in paradise, except for these odd-looking individuals that seem to be watching them from a high bridge.

Final thoughts: Of course Bree knew the Shaka Bars were too good to be true, but she wanted the feeling and slimness that they provided so much that she was willing to ignore all the signs that pointed to “PROBLEM.” She even started cutting her mother out of her life. There were several signs sprinkled throughout the story that Bree and Bob were specifically chosen for their life in the alien zoo they end up in, and I wonder why specifically they were chosen. Is it because they had no close relationships that other people would miss them when the disappeared? Was the obesity important only because it kept them from making close ties to anyone else, or because they’d question the benefits they got less? Another thought-provoking story.

Title comes from: The name of the weight loss bars Bree and Bob consumed. By the end of the story, they were only eating Shaka Bars.

 

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