Sep 10, 2009 by

Read RHAE 1 here

Read RHAE 2 here

Read RHAE 3 here

Round 4 Challenge: Weave an element of Fyor’s story into your passage. It should be no more than 450 words.


September 10, 2025 – Melanie has been working under the world’s top geneticists and scientists for three years. As a research associate at the Cambridge headquarters of CloneLife, which purchased Harvard during the depression of 2022, she holds one of the most coveted scientific research positions in the world. Only 28 years old, there is talk among her peers that she is a future contender for the Nobel. Her job, simply put, is to sort, arrange and store genome sequence information deposited daily at the CloneLife GenBank.

Melanie has a knack for sorting and arranging. Her peers joke it’s in her blood. Her grandfather, Lee Maxwell, holds the CloneLife World Record – what was then called the Guinness World Record – for the largest collection of washing machines in the world – 2,023 at the time of his death in 2019. Lee had a taste for the eclectic. His collection included a washing machine with an attached meat grinder and butter churner as well as the notorious front loader that first brought the Asphodel Fields gaming cult into the limelight when Bob Landers murdered his terrier in a wash cycle before a live online audience.

Melanie has every reason to be happy. She holds a prestigious position at the most profitable corporation in the world and belongs to an elite research team on the cusp of creating a new sexless human being liberated from the evolutionary scaffolding that has dictated the development of all previous life. Her research will not only make history; it will defy it.

Yet despite all this, Melanie is unhappy. She senses something is wrong. As a rationalist, she is suspicious of hunches, intuitions, and other unquantifiable processes. Her reason suggests the CloneLife research is moving in the direction of progress. As Hubczejak once murmured to her offhandedly, for the first time in history humankind would be free of its corruptible genes, its tortured sexuality, its conflicted constitution; in short, free of its flawed humanity. But what Melanie is beginning to suspect, although she has not yet been able to fully articulate the thought to herself, is that humankind’s efforts to immortalize itself by rebuilding the building blocks of life may ironically be spearheading its extinction.

When Melanie first hears the rumors that CloneLife is funding the dog kidnappers in the greater Boston area she dismisses it as competitors’ slander. Even when a friend confronts her with evidence that the dogs have been kidnapped and exterminated, she enters a denial phase and rationalizes the actions as a necessary means to a justifiable end. Only when Cambridge residents start vanishing does Melanie resign.

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  1. Absolutely inspiring. I feel I am in the presence of a future best-seller. This is gripping and intelligent. If we were made to vote for favorite writer, you’d get my vote. Superb!

  2. craig

    funny, I just saw “I am Legend.”

    this is great stuff

  3. Rhae, I do like your ideas, but the writing feels like a summary. There’s lots of Big Picture, but no little details. Well, so far, anyway…

  4. The problem is that if I were to focus on the little details I would sacrifice on the Big Picture because I have so little space to work with. But you’re right. I may have bit off more than I can chew under the contest’s constraints. To keep momentum, I’m describing from a bird’s eye view pespective. As Abraham Lincoln said, “I could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon as attend to all the details of the army.” Perhaps next time I will get the teaspoon.

  5. Your writing really does deserve a larger space to play out. Though I am liking the personal details through which the Big Picture is being played out.

    You are introducing us to real people and moving the backstory through them. Let’s hope for a bigger word count for next round.

    I am particularly impressed with how you have woven the Fyor element into your 450 words.

  6. Auggie

    this is not bad. but it’s definitely not good. has potential but rather bland as it stands. i haven’t read all the contestants yet, but you are in the lead for a vote.

  7. I love SF so I’m happy with the overview so far. I think it will serve you and the story well to get more specific and also to add more personal conflict in the next round. You will surely be here for the next round.

  8. Unfortunately for me, Jodi and Kaylie, it seems that, as far as my writing goes, your comments are minority opinions. After seeing the poll percentages I see I could have just as easily been the one knifed into that wall instead of Igor. I could always “sex it up,” and I mean that quite literally, considering that all the writings about sex, whether denied, purchased, coerced or fantasized about, have survived the vote-offs. But I’ll leave that to the other more venereally focused contestants. My dishes may be bland, Auggie, but hopefully they’re hearty. You’ll have to look elsewhere for fast food.

  9. Funny how the voting goes!! I did not expect you to be anywhere near the chopping block. My personal take is that you have a good story line and I want to know more. I’m enjoying it.

    Keep it up and don’t ‘sex it up’ for ‘sex it up’s sake’.

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