Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Page 69: Billy and the Cloneasaurus

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 

we put  Stephen Kozeniewski's Billy and the Cloneasaurus to the test!

Set up page 69 for us (what are we about to read):

William 790-6, a clone just like everyone else on planet Earth, has discovered a mysterious windmill which may contain the secrets to how such a bizarre society came to pass. 

What’s Billy and the Cloneasaurus about?

Did you ever feel like you were just a face in the crowd, an interchangeable cog at work, a drab clone of all your contemporaries?  Imagine if that were literally the case.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the books overall theme?

Sure, it covers some of the scary realities of a weird, dystopian universe that seems (if not literally, then metaphorically) to becoming true.


“At the pub,” 790 said, a bit plaintively, he could even hear it in his own voice, betrayed by his own ears which should have been hearing him as heroic and undaunted, not small and cowardly and mouse-like.

“At the pub, yes,” Wilson said, “Very typical.  You know, I suppose, where the beef comes from?”

 “From the freezer bank, of course,” 790 said, “Same as us.”

 “So, that is to say that something not unlike you is decanted in the freezer bank, killed, exsanguinated, slaughtered, processed, and served to you as food?”

 790’s eyes widened in horror.

“No, that’s…that’s grotesque!  What are you talking about?  They just grow the beef in the vats. It just grows like a plant.”

Wilson took off his makeshift glasses, folded them up, and used them to stir ever-widening circles in his ever-diminishing cup of coffee.  790 looked almost as shocked by this bizarre action as by the odd beliefs about the source of a clone’s food.

"There was a time, you must confess, when there were no vats.  No freezer bank.  No Williams, even.”

 790 waggled his finger in the air at Wilson, as though trying to connect a variety of spark plugs in a dying car.

“You know, I’ve been thinking that same thing lately, just idly trying to make sense of it.  But it doesn’t make sense, does it?  How could there have been something before?  Where would it have come from?”

“Ah, but the axlotl tanks had to come from somewhere, didn’t they?  They had to be built.  A man couldn’t have been originally decanted from something man-made.”

790 was profoundly quiet; quieter than he had been staring at the stars last night.  Quieter than he ever had been in his life.  If he had been familiar with the primitive Buddhist concept of a koan, he would have realized that he had, just in that instant, for the first time achieved the state of enlightened blissful ignorance which was the purpose of ancient man’s philosophy.  The tree fell in the forest, one hand clapped, and it suddenly became very clear to 790 that man must have built the first tank, and not vice versa.

“A cow is an animal…you’re familiar with the concept?”


Stephen Kozeniewski lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.

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