Robert Heinlein – All You Zombies (1959)

Robert Heinlein‘s short story All You Zombies was first published in the March 1959 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. I listened to it on episode 200 of the EscapePod podcast.

All You Zombies is a time travel paradox story about a man writes confessional fiction as an ‘unmarried mother’.

This is a spoilerific episode, so I advice you read the story first. Have you read it? Let me know what you think on Twitter @shortsfreview or by leaving a comment below.

My own story about Robert Heinlein referred to in the podcast is The Dead Science Fiction Writers Workshop.

I recommend Robert Heinlein’s novel Stranger in a Strange Land.

You can subscribe to the Short Science Fiction Review on iTunes HERE.

Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 009

Short story: All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein (1959), listened to on the EscapePod podcast episode 200. Highly Recommended.

Poem: Cynics and Romantics by Robert Graves, listened to through Librivox. Recommended.

Essay: Earthquake Lights, listened to on Skeptoid 534, from August 2016. Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Bradbury Challenge: Day 008

Short story: After the Race by James Joyce (1914), listened to on the Morning Short podcast. Recommended.

Poem: Snake by D. H. Lawrence, listened to through Librivox. Recommended.

Essay: The Price of Shame by Monica Lewinsky, listened to on the TEDTalks podcast, from March 2015. Highly Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 007

Short story: The Judgement by Franz Kafka (1912), listened to on the Morning Short podcast. Recommended.

Poem: The House of the Soul: Lay by Dororthy L. Sayers, listened to through Librivox. Recommended.

Essay: The Genius of Disability: Brian Pearce – Why do I Paint? listened to on BBC’s The Essay podcast from January 2015. Recommended.

Short story 2/52 written.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 006

Short story: Waiting for the Zephyr by Tobias S. Buckell, from the 2008 Wastelands anthology, edited by John Joseph Adams. Recommended.

Poem: Black Flowers by Norma Mole, listened to on the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Now podcast, from August 2016. Recommended.

Essay: Studio Ghibli, listened to on the BBC’s Witness podcast from August 2016. Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 005

Short story: The Coffee House of Surat (1893) by Leo Tolstoy, listened to through Librivox.

Poem: Mole by Aldous Huxley, listened to through Librivox. Recommended.

Essay: The Power of Fiction by Will Self, listened to on the BBC’s A Point of View podcast from February 2015. Highly Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

No Rehab for Wizards

I cut off one of my eyelids today. It was definitely worth it.

“Now why on Earth would you want to do something like that?” Mum asks.

I shake my head, tut. “So I can control manatees,” I say.

“And what do you want to control manatees for?”

I shrug and turn the volume up on Match of the Day. Mum never gets me. She was banging on the other day about how I need to go into rehab. “There’s something not right about you, boy,” she said. “You’re always chopping bits off yourself. It’s not right.”

I tried to tell her there’s no rehab for wizards. Magic always has a price: a sacrifice of flesh always has to be made. A chunk of skin off your arm will give you control of a mayfly, but what’s the point in that? At least manatees have got a half-decent shelf-life.

I was telling her the other day about these wizards around Birmingham way who kill dogs and badgers for their magic. I asked if she’d rather me do that. She just cried.

The thing people don’t realise about using animals is that if you want to take control of dog, you have to kill about thirteen or fourteen of them. And even then, you only get to control one of those shitty little yappy ones. Seems pointless to me.

When Mum had a go at me for lopping off my little toe a couple of weeks back, I made a joke that I’d sacrifice her if she carried on having a go at me. She cried at that as well, and I really only meant it as a joke. Thing is, though, the more I think about it, the more it seems like a good idea.

I’d have to work out how strong the magic would be if I did it, though. I’m assuming it would be a bit like with the dogs. Kill a whole bunch of people to take control of a shitty one? I’d get in trouble for sure. But I’m thinking it’d probably count for a lot more if it’s your own mum. It must do.

I turn off Match of the Day and go upstairs.

“And where do you think you’re going?” Mum asks. “You’re not going to chop any more body parts again, I hope? What would your father say if he could see you now with all them bits hanging off?”

I turn back and smile. “I’m just going for a wee,” I say. “Stick the kettle on will you?”

When the kettle starts to boil, I reach behind the toilet and pull out my blade. I run my finger across its edge and grin as a small cut opens along my fingertip.

“Your tea’s on the hearth,” Mum says, shouting up the stairs.

“Coming.” I tuck the blade under my hoodie.

Limping back downstairs, I see Mum has put Eastenders on. “You don’t mind me watching this on catch-up do you?” she asks. “You’d turned your football off.”

“It’s fine,” I say.

I stand behind her and look down at her grey-streaked hair. I take the blade and bring it across her throat. She makes a weird gurgling noise.

I panic and run to the kitchen to grab some tea towels and kitchen roll. I try dabbing at the blood, but it makes a right mess.

Mum always said that when I started to get into one of my panics I should stop, take a deep breath, and have a nice cup of tea. So I sit down on the opposite sofa and sip my tea, my eyes half on Eastenders and half on my mum bleeding out all over her nice cream carpet.

If I let her keep bleeding, it will stop eventually. Then it will dry and be easier to mop up. I really don’t want to ruin any more tea towels, so it’s probably for the best to wait.

Then I remember: I’d forgotten to do the incantation. What a complete waste of time.

I turn Match of the Day back on. At least I still had my manatee.

This text is copyright 2016 by Jon Cronshaw, released under a BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Licence.