In the fifth chapter of Blackout, Georgia learns that her future is going to be both horrifically uncomfortable and nerve-wracking. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Blackout.
I really did miss Georgia a whole lot, so on one level, it’s refreshing and satisfying just to be able to read anything narrated by her. The context of her return, however, is a lot more unsettling than I was ready to deal with. Grant does a fantastic job conveying how detached Dr. Thomas is from Georgia, at least in the sense that he can’t really view her as a human being. Throughout this chapter, all I could think was that the only person being unreasonable was Dr. Thomas, not Georgia. In particular, chapter five opens with an awkward confrontation between these two characters as Dr. Thomas arrives to do more tests on Georgia. Dr. Thomas claims that it is “unreasonable” for him to greet Georgia like she is a person. I know that Georgia is being a bit facetious, but she’s also bringing up a great point: Dr. Thomas still thinks she is just a talking lab experiment. That’s fucking creepy, y’all.
And despite that the CDC scientists have verified that Georgia probably isn’t going to spontaneously amplify, the man still treats Georgia terribly. Like, for real, the cognitive dissonance that this man operates under makes me queasy. Does he seriously think an outdated sociology textbook counts as “reading material”? Is he truly concerned about Georgia’s welfare, or is he denying Georgia a haircut because of “protocol”? Y’ALL, HE IS LITERALLY TERRIFIED TO TOUCH HER. Georgia brings up the fact that Dr. Thomas treats her with this bizarre “fatherly interest,” and I can’t help but wonder if Dr. Thomas would treat a dude in Georgia’s position in the same way. Probably not. So there’s that, too!
While I spent most of this chapter being unnerved by Dr. Thomas, I must admit that the very idea of this whole cloning thing started to make me feel weird. So, Georgia has a lot of tests to undergo before anything significant is going to happen with her living arrangements. It’s what those tests are for that creep me out. Like, she has “new” internal organs in a body that appears to be a later age. Through this, Grant is introducing the idea that Georgia’s body can just go wrong at any moment. I mean, she is a rapidly-grown clone! How many of these have the CDC made? (More on that in a second.) What’s the failure rate? Oh god, I hate talking about Georgia this way because she is a goddamn person to me, but I also don’t want to ignore that her entire existence at this point is predicated on the CDC’s cloning process working. Is there a chance for deterioration? What about her memory and her identity? Could those fail?
For the time being, Georgia seems perfectly fine. She’s alert, she’s the same spunky genius that I knew in Feed, and she’s thinking about how she can escape. I love that she counted the guards (and the distance Gregory walked to get back to the guard station in the last chapter) because it gives me hope that she will be able to escape at some point. However, let’s be real. It’s Dr. Shaw that’s going to make that happen, isn’t it? Grant introduces us to yet another CDC doctor, one who kind of comes off like Dr. Abbey in the beginning. She’s direct and rude, and she wears gorgeous three-inch heels in a lab. I like her already. Of course, she’s not what she seems, for when Dr. Thomas leaves the room, her demeanor changes:
Finally, surprisingly, she laughed. “Oh, very good! They really did bring you back, didn’t they? Or good as, one supposes.”
Okay, WHAT? She knows Georgia? Or at least knows who she is, right? And why is she suddenly so ecstatic to see Georgia?
Then I stopped, my heart jumping up into my throat as I saw what the screen had been concealing from the rest of the room.
“Go ahead, Georgia,” said Dr. Shaw’s voice from the main room. “We really must get started as quickly as possible.
I stepped slowly forward, barely breathing as I picked up the tiny pistol that was sitting on the stool, almost like it was waiting for me.
WHAT THE HELL!!!! A gun? A gun? The EIS folks smuggled a ceramic/plastic polymer gun into the CDC to give to Georgia? Okay, well, I DEFINITELY LIKE THE EIS A WHOLE LOT MORE. They gave Georgia the means to protect herself if necessary. That is a big deal. Not only that, but a small note under the gun identifies Dr. Shaw as another ally, AND THEN TELLS GEORGIA THAT SHAUN IS ALIVE. Oh my god, I felt so emotional during that scene. Georgia knows Shaun is alive, y’all, and you know that’s going to be what helps her through this mess. She knows that Shaun is out there.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Georgia is off the hook when it comes to all the tests she has to undergo. I take a little bit of comfort in knowing that it’s Dr. Shaw administering the tests and not Dr. Thomas. Granted, the whole thing is uncomfortable, but at least Georgia gets a haircut out of the whole thing!
So. We have to talk about Dr. Thomas’s email. He refers to Georgia as Subject 7c, and he’s generally as detached as ever while describing her. But I need to talk about this:
It may be necessary to being preparing the 8 line for release. I will continue to observe and study 7c, but do not believe that 7d would offer any substantial improvement in the problem areas.
LINE? The 8 line??? OH NO. NO. NO NO NO NO. DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THEY ARE EXPERIMENTING WITH LINES OF CLONES? Does that mean there is more than one of Georgia? Oh my god, MY GOD. NO. NO.
NOT EVEN MAHIR’S BITTERSWEET BLOG ENTRY MAKES ME FEEL BETTER. OH GOD OH GOD.
Mark Links Stuff
- I am now on tour!!! I have 26 events spread out across the eastern HALF of the U.S. and Canada. They are all free and all-ages. Come see me speak about the Mark Does Stuff Universe and read terrible fanfiction live!
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Commissions are still open while I am on tour! There may be a day or two delay to get them done, but I am accepting them graciously to help fund my tour!
- Nominate me for a Hugo award in Fan Writer or Dramatic Presentation – Short Form!