The audio performances of Women Destroy Science Fiction have been pretty on point, but the performer for “Like Daughter” was freaking incredible. Since I’m listening to this collection, it seemed worthwhile to point that out for anyone else looking for incredibly well performed audiobooks. The character voices and the pacing and the emotionality here were pitch perfect.
The story itself has such a simple idea to it: before it was struck down as illegal by the government, something that read like more than cloning was discovered—it was possible to give birth to a baby who was absolutely a copy of an original human being, and this piece, told from the point of view of a Paige, a friend of Denise (who has chosen to have a baby that is also herself, Neecy), and the winding way their pasts began, intwined, separated, and left both in a position at the start of the story to face down a kind of horrible, no-win choice.
Denise’s life was, in a word, awful. Though she has survived, at no point did I get the sense that she was thriving, but had instead put all her hope on giving Neecy—a literal second chance Denise—a life that she could never have had herself. Something, however, has gone wrong and that’s where the story beings, really: with her calling Paige to demand she come and take Neecy away. Forever. What follows is an incredibly emotional story that more-or-less happens in shades of “awful and less awful.” How could anyone possibly do well in this scenario? How can anyone possibly make the right choice? What can Paige possibly do? There are no real answers, but the questions and this moment in time are put together into this story in such a clever way I just sort of leaned back and let the impossible wash over me, knowing I’d be thinking about this one a long time after.