Friday, September 26, 2014

Short Fiction Friday: All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein

I recently came across a trailer for a new movie from the Spierig brothers and decided to seek out the source story - to aid in my attempt to read more sci-fi in general and more classic sci-fi in particular. The movie is called Predestination and stars Ethan Hawke as "the Bartender" a time traveling cop. You can check out the trailer on IMDB here - I'll wait.

Looks cool, right? It played at this year's South by Southwest and apparently did really well. Well enough, in fact, to get picked up for distribution.

A quick look-see at the movie's dets shows that it is in fact based on a short story penned by Robert A. Heinlein and published back in 1959 (if Wikipedia is to be trusted) in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. BTW, don't read the actual Wikipedia breakdown of the story if you want the story or movie to be any sort of surprise.

"All You Zombies" is weird and cool and super bizarre. It's also extremely short. Supposedly, though, the Spierig brothers have stuck close to their inspiration while also fleshing out and obviously adding more of an investigation plot.

In the short, the Bartender is set on recruiting a character called the Unmarried Mother. The Unmarried Mother has a troubled past that is revealed to the Bartender during their talk - over drinks - with the Bartender ultimately suggesting he can help the Unmarried Mother in gaining some vengeance or closure. In exchange, the Unmarried Mother will sign on as a fellow temporal agent. 

It's hard to say much about the story without completely ruining it, and I do feel a bit of a sense of regret in now knowing at least part of the movie plot as well. I'm sure there's lots that can be debated about the story, but all in all it's a time travel paradox story. Everything in the story hinges on specific events that must happen via time travel.

I'm not sure how I really want to rate this read. On the one hand I know it's a classic of the genre and Heinlein is a HUGE name in said genre as well. On the other hand it's just such a weird story! It might require another read through before seeing the film.

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