Unwind Ch1: Connor

Part One

What is it with the books I read doing parts as well as chapters?

“I was never going to amount to much anyway, but now, statistically speaking, there’s a better chance that some part of me will go on to greatness somewhere in the world. I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”

1 Connor

Our main character! His girlfriend is telling him to run away.

“There are places you can go,” Ariana tells him, “and a guy as smart as you
has a decent chance of surviving to eighteen.”

From what I’ve gathered, the idea is that once you hit eighteen and become an adult, you’re safe from being killed. This is yet another point for this being a solely right-wing fantasy, the unwinding is entirely dependent on the idea that children are property and have no rights of their own, and suddenly get them when they move out.

Her eyes are sweet violet with streaks of gray.


She’s such a slave to fashion— always getting the newest pigment injection the second it’s in style.

Oh okay, yeah people would totally do that.

But not our protagonist, for some reason. He’s never modified his body at all.

He never even got tattoos, like so many kids get these days when they’re little.

Okay now I’m extra lost. Tattoos are pretty close to permanent, so if fashion is so changable you’re redoing your eyes all the time, why would they also be super popular? I feel like this is some reference to kids these days being delinquents, but seriously, tattoos? And since we’re established kids have no rights, why would parents let them?

Connor is sixteen and not really ready to deal with the fact he’s going to die now. Ariana starts to cry and they hug.

They’re hanging out above a freeway.

Sitting on this ledge, hidden behind an exit sign is where he feels most comfortable. Sure, one false step and he’s roadkill. Yet for Connor, life on the edge is home.

I’m already getting irritated. Probably because I just hate this book, but it seems like it’s setting out Connor as a “real” kid. Like the Dangerous Book for Boys or any of those things about how boys should act in a particular way or they’ve been sissiffied by the evil matriarcy. Connor doesn’t like fashion and does like doing slightly dangerous masculine things.

But we’ll have to see.

Apparently Connor’s been fighting with his parents, which is basically being a teen and not much of a crime.

Ariana says they can run away together.

“I’m fed up with everything, too. My family, school, everything. I could kick-AWOL, and never look back.”

Why? Dunno yet. But it means a lot to Connor, who’s terrified of leaving on his own.

Connor knows this is major. Running away with an Unwind—that’s commitment.

Hm. This seems to imply that there’s punishment for helping unwind kids escape. But for one thing, unless there’s an official announcement, couldn’t she just say she didn’t know? I mean, they’re sixteen, she could just say that he asked her to run away and get married. And for another…while it might seem like punishing people would discourage them from helping, in practice, it means you’re getting peripheral people involved and creating even more unhappy people total.

For example: killing Connor will upset Connor’s friends. Killing Connor’s friends will upset their friends and family. Your policy of killing people now has a greater impact. One of the things about politics and movements is that people generally don’t care about what doesn’t touch them. If a family decides to kill their kid, the impact is limited largely to other kids, who don’t have much immediate power. But if those other kids are also hurt by it, then that impacts their adult parents.

If you want to keep things relatively smooth, you forgive the kids their youthful discretion, which ruffles the fewest feathers.

“AWOL . . .” she says. “What does that mean, anyway?”
“It’s an old military term or something,” Connor says. “It means ‘absent without leave.'”

And this is just weird. Is it meant to be that the term’s dead in official use and only kept as slang because we’re in the future or something? Or is the author just stopping because he figures he needs to explain the word because kids won’t know it?

Anyway, Connor asks her to come and she says she will, and we have a section break.

Ariana’s parents don’t like Connor. “We always knew he’d be an Unwind,” he can just hear them saying. “You should have stayed away from that Lassiter boy.” He was never “Connor” to them. He was always “that Lassiter boy.” They think that just because he’s been in and out of disciplinary school they have a right to judge him.

Uh. In and out of disciplinary school sure sound like worthy reasons to judge someone. I mean, sure, there might be reasons why he is or unfairness or whatever, but it’s not like they’re saying he’s bad news because he’s got long hair or they don’t like his surname.

Then Connor goes home. It’s late (he’s missed supper) but no one seems to think anything of it. Maybe this is part of him having been a rebellious teen, staying out late?

Connor wonders how he can call the place he lives home, when he’s about to be evicted—not just from the place he sleeps, but from the hearts of those who are supposed to love him.

Ah, teen angst. I was about to say this does sound like a teenager, but on third thought, my first lul teen angst response feels right – this doesn’t sound like one, it sounds like a teenager writing about a teenager. Someone actually staring death down would probably be less whiny and more actually upset. But presumably it’s just meant to sound really realistic to its target audience of teens.

His father points at some random carnage on the news. “Clappers again.”
“What did they hit this time?”
“They blew up an Old Navy in the North Akron mall.”

No info on what that is. More notable, I think, is that apparently there’s a steady background of domestic terrorism in this. That’s odd. America’s more a lone shooter type place, the only major terrorist groups we have are…well. The people who apparently won the abortion civil war.

Apparently, the unwinding is a big secret and his parents don’t know he knows – so really, Ariana running off with him should be pretty safe. He could even claim he didn’t know himself if he wanted to push it. He only knows because he stumbled across tickets to the Bahamas.

There were only three tickets. His mother, his father, his younger brother. No ticket for him.

Can you imagine your parents killing your older sibling? That’s got to be really fucking people up.

So he keeps digging.

The Unwind order. It had been signed in old-fashioned triplicate. The white copy was already gone—off with the authorities. The yellow copy would accompany Connor to his end, and the pink would stay with his parents, as evidence of what they’d done.

This really doesn’t make much sense, though – why a paper trail? And why take so long, anyway? This doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you want people to sit on. He’s known for weeks.

The creepy thing is that his parents are going on vacation right after they drop him off. But then, his response is pretty damn creepy too – he pretends everything’s great to fuck with his parents.

Everyone knew that an unwind order was irreversible, so screaming and fighting wouldn’t change a thing.

Okay, see that’s proving my point, you shouldn’t have a long lag time between the parent deciding to do it and it happening.

Besides, he found a certain power in knowing his parents’ secret. Now the blows he could deal them were so much more effective. Like the day he brought flowers home for his mother and she cried for hours. Like the B-plus he brought home on a science test. Best grade he ever got in science. He handed it to his father, who looked at it, the color draining from his face. “See, Dad, my grades are getting better. I could even bring my science grade up to an A by the end of the semester.” An hour later his father was sitting in a chair, still clutching the test in his hand, and staring blankly at the wall.

While murdering him is still wrong, I begin to grasp why none of the adults seem to like the kid much.

I don’t think it’s meant to be that way. I think it’s just the teenage fantasy of how you’ll die and they’ll all be sorry because you were so great.

But then it gets weirder. He’s been doing this for almost a month, and now he’s starting to feel bad about how bad he’s making them feel. About their decision to murder him. What the fuck, book. I think it’s the flipside of the teen angst thing, none of this feels properly weird. There’s strong emotion, but it’s rollercoaster teen strong emotions where the cause itself isn’t serious, except that in this case he’s actually getting killed at his parents’ order.

For a second, he thinks his dad’s about to tell him and apologize and cry about how it was such a mistake.

If he does, Connor just might accept the apology. He might even forgive him, and then tell him that he doesn’t plan to be here when the Juveycops come to take him away.

See, it’s just all teen revenge fantasy. This is exactly how he’d be reacting to something much more minor, so it’s incredibly weird to see it tied to something legitimate. The end result is the emotions seem weirdly flat.

That night, Connor decides to go. He considers saying goodbye to his brother but doesn’t want to risk it, and I guess he doesn’t understand the idea of leaving a note.

He can’t take his bike, because he had installed an antitheft tracking device.

Huh. I’m still not too clear when this is set if those are common. Also, would that really do much good? I figure someone who knows how to crack a bike lock could disable that pretty fast too.

Then he heads over to Ariana’s. He can’t approach because her parents have their lights on motion detectors.

They’re meant to scare off wild animals and criminals.

Do people actually do this? That just sounds really annoying. Certainly animals wouldn’t be scared off much by it, and if they’re bright enough to do anything then you’re probably causing light pollution for everyone else.

He calls Ariana and she comes out.

“Hi, are you ready?” asks Connor. Clearly she’s not; she wears a robe over satin pajamas. “You didn’t forget, did you?”
“No, no, I didn’t forget. . . .”
“So hurry up! The sooner we get out of here, the more of a lead we’ll get before anyone knows we’re gone.”
“Connor,” she says, “here’s the thing . . .”


Honestly it makes plenty of sense for her to have gotten cold feet. Running away from home is pretty scary even when there isn’t whatever the extra issue with going with Connor is.

The problem is how it’s presented. She’s the one who suggested it to him and told him without any prompting that she’d go with him. Why? Why not just have him ask her? It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose but to make her look bad because she’s going back on her word in a way she wouldn’t have if he’d tried to convince her to start with.

Connor understands what this means, but he lets her explain anyway.

Because he sees how hard it is for her, and he wants it to be. He wants it to be the hardest thing she’s ever done in her life.

I am really, really seeing why none of the adults like this kid.

The book goes on to have her give some shitty, shitty excuses, including that her sister asked her to be maid of honor at the upcoming wedding and seriously what the fuck are you trying to do here, book?

“I want to, I really, really want to . . . but I can’t.”
“So everything we talked about was just a lie.”
“No,” says Ariana. “It was a dream. Reality got in the way, that’s all. And running away doesn’t solve anything.”
“Running away is the only way to save my life,” Connor hisses. “I’m about to be unwound, in case you forgot.”
She gently touches his face. “I know,” she says. “But I’m not.”

Is there any way to read this that isn’t trying to make her look as bad as possible?

Yes, she was lying, because for no reason the book decided she would voluntarily offer to go with him and explain how much she wanted to, then had her change her mind because being in a wedding is so fun she literally can’t go.

What’s particularly enraging is that the situation itself is completely reasonable. Connor has nothing to lose running away. Ariana has nothing to gain. Lots of kids talk about running away from home without being willing to go through with it. If Ariana often talks about how she wants to run away, then Connor suggests actually doing it when he discovers he’s going to be killed, it’d make sense for Ariana to initially agree but think better of it and say something about how talking about doing something doesn’t mean you’re always ready to. Also, this should conclude with her giving him all her money to help him out and otherwise showing she really is concerned. That’s what I’d expect from an actual person getting cold feet.

Then her mom calls down to ask what’s going on, and Ariana lies and says she thought she heard a coyote so she was checking it wasn’t going after one of their cats.

“So, I’m a coyote,” says Connor.

Fuck you, Connor.

Anyway, she says he’ll be fine and goes back inside, leaving Connor to emo on her doorstep about how he’s all alone but really he’s always been all alone and he just didn’t realize it.

How is the book managing to make someone actually in real trouble sound like an unsympathetic whiner? It’s amazing.

Well. Time for the actual running away. Connor explains that trains and buses are out, since they don’t run at night and by the time they do run his parents will have reported him missing. Why the hell did you try to escape at night in the first place? We established you regularly come home really late. You could’ve hopped on a bus right after school.

Unwinds on the run are so common these days, they have whole teams of Juvey-cops dedicated to finding them. The police have it down to an art.

Uh… Is this because there are a ton of unwinds, or just that almost all unwinds run for it? Either way we’re seeing yet more support for the idea they should do it immediately rather than a month or two after the parent decides.

(And what happens if the kid finds out early, like Connor, but unlike Connor runs early? If the date to kill them is in a month, do they have special holding cells or do they just kill the kid whenever they get them?)

Despite that, Connor is somehow confident he can easily hide out in either a city or the country, because I guess obviously homeless teens are still common in a city and no one thinks to round them all up for parts and the country has been thoroughly depopulated by, I don’t know, weaponized smallpox or something and those old barns Connor plans to hide in are all that’s left. Personally, I’d say the country is most likely where you could find compounds of armed objectors who don’t like the whole childmurder thing and would hide you. Maybe they could smuggle you into Canada. Actually, why isn’t running to Canada or Mexico listed as an option? In fact, why isn’t there an active movement in those places to smuggle innocent kids out?

Yet another dystopia where first America nuked the world, I guess.

once he turns eighteen, he’s home free. After that, sure, they can throw him in jail, they can put him on trial—but they can’t unwind him.

So is there also no death penalty? I’m really not seeing how this would work. What do you put someone on trial for, failing to die? What possible penalty can you have that’d matter?

Anyway, Connor decides to climb into the back of a truck instead.

Thinking ahead has never been one of Connor’s strong points. If it was, he might not have gotten into the various situations that have plagued him over these past few years. Situations that got him labels like “troubled” and “at risk,” and finally this last label, “unwind.”

I would really like to see what Connor actually did. So far, all we know about him is that his grades weren’t the best, he fights with his family like every teen ever, and he likes to hang out over the freeway. Is that all it takes these days for kids to be considered troubled, or is he supposed to be a troubled kid by our standards?

Anyway, apparently the police are super good at predicting where kids will go, because right as he gets there, the police cars start sliding in and circling the area. He tries to convince himself it can’t be him they’re after, since his parents would’ve have noticed he’s gone yet.

Connor sees the driver’s door of another eighteen-wheeler open. No—it’s not the driver’s door, it’s the door to the little bedroom behind the cab.

Are those an actual thing?

Connor sprints in just ahead of the next police circling, but before he can try to hide the guy returns and demands to know what he’s doing. I feel like in this world, a scared teen turning up like this would be kind of self-explanatory.

“Please,” says Connor again. “I’ll do anything you want. …”

Connor you really shouldn’t be saying that.

Instead of heading for rape, the guy sits down and pulls out some cards.

The trucker takes the deck of cards in one hand and does a skillful one-handed
shuffle. “Pretty good, huh?”
Connor, not knowing what to say, just nods.
“How about this?” Then the trucker takes a single card and with sleight of hand makes the card vanish into thin air. Then he reaches over and pulls the card right out of Connor’s shirt pocket. “You like that?”
Connor lets out a nervous laugh.
“Well, those tricks you just saw?” The trucker says, “I didn’t do em.”
“I . . . don’t know what you mean.”
The trucker rolls up his sleeve to reveal that the arm, which had done the tricks, had been grafted on at the elbow. “Ten years ago I fell asleep at the wheel,” the trucker tells him. “Big accident. I lost an arm, a kidney, and a few other things. I got new ones, though, and I pulled through.” He looks at his hands, and now Connor can see that the trick-card hand is a little different from the other one. The trucker’s other hand has thicker fingers, and the skin is a bit more olive in tone.
“So,” says Connor, “you got dealt a new hand.”
The trucker laughs at that, then he becomes quiet for a moment, looking at his replacement hand. “These fingers here knew things the rest of me didn’t. Muscle memory, they call it.

 photo 02a3c63a-f61e-408e-99a6-56eb8c4aa945.jpg

You are not an octopus.

So anyway, he’s always wondered what sort of awesome kid they hacked up for him, so he’ll help Connor. I wonder if he’s the sort of objector who says this stuff but never got around to signing up for the NO UNWIND ORGANS list. And is he an organ donor himself now, to try to take the pressure off kids? (Actually, is there even regular organ donation anymore or is it a murdered teens only affair?)

Relieved, Connor lies down as the guy leaves again, only for the police to start shouting.

“We know you’re in there! Come out now and you won’t get hurt!”

Connor, being weirdly compliant for a problem kid, does so without hesitation, only to find himself staring at the cops’ backs. They’re after another kid.

How many kids does this society kill? Even assuming almost all kids figure it out in advance and make a break for it, two kids in the same area is still an awful lot. Connor even recognizes the kid from school.

The kid sees him and moves away so the police won’t notice Connor as a last act of resistance.

If Andy has nothing else after this day, at least he’ll have this small victory.

It’s interesting that this is what he thinks instead of focusing on how grateful he is for Andy saving him. He hides and begins to cry, but…

He’s not sure who he’s crying for— for Andy, for himself, for Ariana—and not knowing makes his tears flow all the more.

It just seems weird to me that the fact another kid acted to save his life is treated as the same as everything else. If I saw that, I don’t know what else I could think about.

Connor wakes later to his cellphone ringing. He doesn’t want to wake up because he’s dreaming of a time on vacation when he was young and still getting along with his parents. In his stupor, he nearly answers the phone and only realizes at the last second that he’s not at home and remembers everything.

Not that it matters.

Aldridge is a few yards away being handcuffed, and in front of Connor is a policeman: a Juvey-cop wearing a smile as big as all outdoors. Standing ten yards away is Connor’s father, still holding the cell phone he had just called from.

So, what’s the penalty for helping an unwind? There’s been no mention that prisons are also being mined for organs, although given our current laws, arresting everyone who opposes unwinding is a pretty good way of keeping it, since you can permanently remove them from the voting pool like that. But that’s something you only do when there’s a minority of people trying to prevent the majority from changing things, and if unwinding is something most people don’t like it’s not much of a compromise (and there shouldn’t be so many kids that there’s a whole section of the police dedicated to bringing them in).

Also, how can they even prove the guy knew he was there? Let’s assume he tried to stop them from checking the truck and gave it away that he was trying to smuggle the kid out.

“It’s over, son,” his father says.
It makes Connor furious. I’m not your son! He wants to shout. I stopped being your son when you signed the unwind order!

This is interesting. See, as I’ve said, the thing about this setup is it really does fit with certain subgroups believing parents have life or death power over the child. He could only do this in the first place because Connor is his son and therefore his property.

I suppose this is more of Connor being written as if by a teenager, holding onto their preconceptions of fairness and how things should work. Because really, in this universe it doesn’t seem like being unwound is even particularly rare. It’s a fact of life and presumably he’s known other kids who disappeared like this.

It had been so stupid of Connor to leave his cell phone on—that’s how they tracked him—and he wonders how many other kids are caught by their own blind trust of technology.

I really don’t get why it was on either. Maybe it’s because I don’t use them much, but if I’m not expecting a call,
I keep it off. I could see forgetting it was on, but the second half of the sentence sounds like he knew it was on.

This seemed weird to me that kids would be less tech-savvy than adults, but my encounters with the touchpad generation have convinced me a lot of kids really don’t understand what they’re using, so yeah, that’s probably pretty likely.

Well, Connor’s not going the way Andy Jameson did.

You mean deliberately trying to prevent them from seeing you? It’s like the book already forgot that and just remembers that he didn’t put up a big fight. Connor wasn’t about to either, he came right out and even obeyed faster than Andy.

Anyway, Connor sprints onto the highway. Well, at least you can’t say he’s a coward. Interestingly, there’s nothing here about preferring to be splattered by a car than used for parts.

Would they shoot an unarmed kid in the back, he wonders, or would they shoot him in the legs and spare his vital organs?

What does being unarmed have to do with it? The book seems to have already forgotten its setting. We get upset about shooting unarmed kids because they’re not a danger so it’s wrong to kill them. But he’s already going to get killed, so that’s totally irrelevant.

Connor also forgot that the childmurder cops shoot tranquilizers rather than regular bullets and only notices when he sees one miss and splotch ahead of him. How would you not know this? And there isn’t even the excuse that the author has to explain to the reader, because Connor’s thinking about the bullets they use the whole time, he could just have said that, while regular cops might not want to shoot with their bullets and risk damaging his precious organs, these cops are outfitted specially.

Connor climbs over the center divider, and finds himself in the path of a Cadillac that’s not stopping for anything. The car swerves to avoid him, and by sheer luck Connor’s momentum takes him just a few inches out of the Caddy’s path. Its side mirror smacks him painfully in the ribs

Okay, stop. If the car isn’t stopping, then that mirror hit him at seventy miles an hour. That’s worse than getting hit by the whole car because now all that force is concentrated in a tiny area. That should have caved his chest in as well as sent him flying.

before the car screeches to a halt

So if it’s going to stop anyway, why not just say it was screeching to a halt before it hit him, so it isn’t clear how hard it was?

Connor looks into the eyes of this frightened kid, and knows what he has to do. It’s time for another split-second decision. He reaches through the window, pulls up the lock, and opens the door.

I don’t see why this is better than just saying the door isn’t locked. Are there seriously so many people who lock the doors for a highway trip that leaving the window open while on the highway sounded more plausible?

Anyway, that’s the final line of the chapter. Why is he doing this? Who knows.


  1. Negrek says:

    I don’t see why this is better than just saying the door isn’t locked.
    Are there seriously so many people who lock the doors for a highway trip
    that leaving the window open while on the highway sounded more

    I’d have to go with “yes”… the doors on my family’s cars lock automatically once the car starts rolling, and I thought that was pretty standard nowadays. And there’s no real reason to go to the trouble of *unlocking* them afterward, so… I also know several people who drive with the window(s) down on the highway; for some, it’s because they feel (more) carsick with them up. I wouldn’t say it’s hugely common, but neither hugely rare, and I don’t think driving on the highway with the doors locked is hugely uncommon, either.

    It does seem odd how Connor seems to be “grr teen rage this is so unfair” over the whole hideous death thing rather than actually being worried about dying. Perhaps it’s some kind of coping mechanism where he still doesn’t really think it can happen to him, being a teenager and all.

    1. Ember says:

      Yeah, all the cars I’ve been in recently have auto-locking doors too. It does seem weird to have your window down on the highway, but not necessarily weirder than having your doors unlocked there. Really, though, it would have made the most sense for him to punch a window in. Let him do *something* to make his ~troubled kid~ reputation remotely believable, come on.

      1. Farla says:

        Well, in fairness, it would probably take a bit longer to smash in a window properly.

    2. Farla says:

      I always understood the autolock thing to be a safety danger, since they can malfunction, but then I’ve recently seen a bunch of cars that have do the beeping thing if you don’t buckle your seatbelt.

      …which, come to think of it, just adds another wrinkle, why would the doors be locked but the kid not wearing a seatbelt?

  2. LittleDeadFly says:

    I’d always assumed that the children would be harvested when there’s need for organs and not whenever their parents decided to give them up as candidates. Then again, the whole idea is just stupid. Why not just clone the organs you need–oh wait, because the book is making a stupid statement about abortion.

    1. Farla says:

      But in that case why not wait to collect the kid when you get an order in? They seem to set the date they get a kid in advance, so they either cut them up on the spot or they have to keep them around in some sort of facility.

      1. LittleDeadFly says:

        Yeah, that’s the part that’s kinda dumb. I agree with you there.

  3. purplekitte says:

    Regardless of the broken abortion metaphor, I could see why this would be very popular wish-fulfillment for teenagers: your parents don’t really love you and they’re out to get you, in fact all adults are the enemy, anyone actually cares about your teenaged rebellion. If you were more badass, you too could romantically run away from home and become a fugitive.

    More consistency would have been nice on how bad a kid Connor was supposed to be. Everything we see is really mild and normal. But at least where I went to school, getting sent to alternative school was a big, big deal, totally different than getting detention occasionally. Why would they even have such schools? You’d think the evil government would take it out of the parents’ hands at that point, because the kid has obvious proven defective. Most of the kids I knew who spent a lot of time in and out of correctional school and juvie had parents who were never around and knew but didn’t care about their sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, or even did drugs with them on weekends. Letting the parents choose goes with the rest of the children-are-property of their parents mentality, but makes no sense otherwise.

    Eh, some people like the windows open for no particular reason, it’s also useful if you’re air conditioning doesn’t work or drains gas-power like crazy.

    1. Ember says:

      Yeah, I was just thinking how that part of the premise kind of reminded me of ASOUE where the adults were all either evil or incompetent and the kids just had to try to survive it until they were eighteen (until things got even worse and it became clear they would be on the run forever). Only that series was surrealist black humor by intention whereas this one seems to be attempting to be realistic and serious and failing hilariously.

    2. Farla says:

      Bear in mind we don’t know what gets you sent to correctional schools in this universe. I’m half expecting it to be revealed that Connor’s considered a troublemaker because he once faked being sick to get out of school.

  4. actonthat says:

    [[Do people actually do this? That just sounds really annoying. Certainly animals wouldn’t be scared off much by it, and if they’re bright enough to do anything then you’re probably causing light pollution for everyone else.]]

    My parents did after someone tried to break into our house, and yes it was ridiculously annoying. They were kind enough to put one right outside my window.

    [[Connor sees the driver’s door of another eighteen-wheeler open. No—it’s not the driver’s door, it’s the door to the little bedroom behind the cab.
    Are those an actual thing?]]

    They are! I’ve always wanted to see one.

    I am just so perplexed by this setting where murdering children is totally kosher. I mean, just psychologically, it makes no fucking sense. Have you ever seen a woman react to a miscarriage? Do you have any idea how badly that fucks you up? (And it seems like this is frequent enough that at least a good deal of the unwound kids are planned pregnancies; I mean, Connor’s parents are married and he has a younger brother.) When you have a troubled kid, your instinct is not to off them, it’s to help them– parents are some of the worst enablers because of this. What kind of sociopath looks at their kid and thinks, “Eh, not perfect, murdering time!” (And, you know, it’s one thing to have shitty or disinterested parents, but outside of horrible abusive situations, even bad parents aren’t actively thinking, “You know, if it was legal, I’d murder my child.”) I mean, if that’s the standard and apparently the entire population is okay with this setup, you’re looking at a sevre population drop because all teens have issues and MURDERING YOUR OWN OFFSPRING IS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF A NORMAL BEHAVIOR.

    Basically I’m saying this author has severe psychological issues.

    1. Farla says:

      Remember that bit about the miscarriage! The author has some similarly hilarious ideas about how women react to having a kid.

      I mean, if that’s the standard and apparently the entire population is okay with this setup, you’re looking at a sevre population drop because all teens have issues and MURDERING YOUR OWN OFFSPRING IS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF A NORMAL BEHAVIOR.

      Wait, suddenly this makes sense!

      A series of unspecified disasters damaged the part of the brain that tells you to tolerate annoying offspring. Just as newborn babies are annoying and demanding, teenagers fight with their parents all the time, and in both cases evolution stepped up to build the human brain to not kill their own offspring. Somehow, that’s been turned off and they’re just working off the existing societal ethics from pre-disaster society, They were raised to know that killing children is wrong, but without the emotional basis for that, they have no grounding for why, leading to increasing insanity.

      “So babies are definitely children. How long do they keep being children? Teenagers aren’t children, right? Because mine are so fucking annoying!”

      “Biologically they can have children, so they can’t be children. I guess they’re okay to murder then.”

      “Hey, if you’re not using the teen’s lungs, can I have them? The doctor told me to quit smoking or I’d die, but I really miss cigarettes.”

      1. not says:

        That’s why I pointed out it would work better as a religious belief. Then the divided state would make sense.

    2. maimh says:

      I agree with that, I really can’t get behind just how anyone, beyond psychopaths would ever want to kill their kids like that. As say by many, it would work much better if it was the government who made the call.
      My favorite dystopian teenager-killer book was about overpopulation. And it worked because all the killing was decided by a specific set of rules, so in the end it was “nobody’s” fault.

      This? This is just a land of maniacs. I like Farlas idea below, it would be interesting.
      Ooh, or perhaps these people are not really humans, but badly made clones. The survivors from the war attempted to save humanity by mass production, but the process was flawed, so the clones are like, hamsters? And are prone to kill/eat offspring that causes stress.
      Heck, you could have a gruesome reveal that the parent actually would devour their kids before, and the Unwind is simply the government trying to make things civilized.

      1. Farla says:


        You know, humans value their young because babies are a huge resource investment. But, given limited resources, they’ll focus their investment on the one who seems most likely to succeed and neglect the rest.

        In modern society, the resource cost for having a kid is much lower, but raising one is much, much higher. In addition, people in more populated areas simply don’t have a drive to have multiple kids because they perceive things as overpopulated.

        After all, that’s really what’s going on with hamsters. They kill their young if the young seem to have little chance of rewarding the investment of caring for them. They’ll also cull some of the litter to remove boys/girls depending on which gender they think will have a better chance in the current environment.

        Now, if both abortion and contraception is outlawed, you could get a situation where since there’s inevitably going to be a surplus of kids and culling them before the more expensive phase of their education would make sense.

        It would still be impossible for this to be how humans work, because we’ve had millions of years of evolution to get us to this point, but I think you could have a species that outwardly looked human but had evolved like this, and then yeah, progress might make the government try to take over the process and make it less brutal. To us it would seem horrifying, to the aliens it would be a huge step forward ethically.

        1. maimh says:

          That would make for a really good horror story I think. Perhaps aliens overtook the country/Earth, picked the appearance of humans by science (I have seen stories that made this work), and the story would be told from the viewpoint of the last real humans.

        2. Molly says:

          There are societies where killing a baby is completely normal and acceptable if the mother doesn’t think the baby will survive. There’s actually a book on one such area in Brazil by Nancy Scheper-Hughes called Death Without Weeping. However, I don’t think such a thing would become common in Unwind’s setting.

          In Death Without Weeping, the people live in such horrible poverty that they have to very careful about conserving their resources and not wasting them. If a baby looks frail or doesn’t seem likely to survive, they aren’t worth the resources it takes to keep them alive. So the mothers neglect them until they die. Circumstances have made that practice necessary. But it wouldn’t work in Unwind’s world because there isn’t something that forces them to make that decision.

          There isn’t much on the line for having a child that doesn’t seem likely to survive in Unwind’s world. It’s not a choice between sacrificing these resources to ensure the potentially resourceful offspring who can help you by bringing in more resources once it’s grown or letting the baby die because it doesn’t seem healthy enough and it isn’t worth the risk of losing food, water, time, energy, etc. In Unwind it looks like it’s a choice between dealing with annoying teen behavior or just getting rid of the kid because who wants to deal with all that whining.

          1. Farla says:

            Not only that, but it usually requires a lot of normalizing in the culture. You can definitely speed things up with crippling poverty, since starvation starts to turn off the parts of your brain you need for empathy, but generally, cultures with infanticide have spent a great deal of energy supporting the practice to allow people to go through with it and continue functioning afterward.

            1. Molly says:

              True. There’s actually an interesting bit of normalizing going on in the shanty town in Brazil where the mothers let their baby dies that links back to the conversation about the church on the other post. In the shanty town, the church previously showed the death of the children as a good thing, or at least something to be celebrated, saying that they were angels now. The mothers even referred to the dying children as angels rather than children before they had even died. The children died so often the bell range almost everyday for them and the priests were willing to baptize dead babies or babies who were almost dead. Although the church condemns this now in an effort to make the women care more their children, as far as I know it hasn’t worked.

              Another weird thing was the mother’s ability to keep themselves detached from their children until a certain age. Then, when the baby starts to die or a child shows signs of illness they simply detach themselves from the child, making it easier to get on with life. Not to mention the fact that the mother’s don’t see the death as their own fault for neglecting them, but rather the child’s fault for not having the will to live. Grieving for your child is seen as abnormal, because they’ve reached the point where they expect the child to die, so it’s completely normal for them.

              1. Farla says:

                That actually makes a lot of sense to me. It’s always worse to try to save something and get invested only for it to die anyway. If they’re in horrible enough conditions that infanticide is necessary, they probably started off with terrible infant mortality even when they were trying their best. And it’s not just their own babies they’d see dying, it’s everyone’s, so they’d have grown up learning it’s best to detach yourself as much as possible.

                And that’s why birth control and abortions are important. If people can’t afford their children, no amount of condemnation will get them to change their mind.

  5. not says:

    Also, 70 mph? :That’s Bollocks. Aside from the fact that future america still uses “miles”, an impact at that speed would kill him. These two taiwan guys could tell you: http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2004-14.html

    1. Farla says:

      But see, it’s only the mirror that hits him at 70mph, and that kind of force isn’t dangerous when it’s concentrated in a tiny area! It makes so much sense! That’s why knights used lances, after all: they didn’t want to hurt anybody.

      1. Nerem says:

        This is late, but the book actually isn’t really wrong about this. Being hit by a speeding car’s mirror would hurt but not be nearly as dangerous as being hit by the actual car. The comparison to a lance is a wrong because for a lance, the force of the entire lance is concentrated on a point that is made to penetrate and smash through. Whereas for a car, that is not true in the slightest. The mirror is much more likely to break off instead, or only hit with a glancing blow due to the shape of it. It also doesn’t have the mass to be as dangerous as being hit by the car itself.

        In short it would be very unpleasant, but probably wouldn’t shatter your ribs or whatever.

        Source: Having been hit by a mirror like Connor did.

    2. Ember says:

      ‘Aside from the fact that future america still uses “miles”…’

      I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think the metric revolution is coming.

      1. not says:

        Looks like you’re in good company –Cheers USA, Liberia and Myanmar!

        1. Farla says:

          Huh, those guys are also into torture. Truly we are among our own.

  6. Shade says:

    I probably won’t comment on all of these, but… Heh.

    It’s not based in fact, but I’m fascinated by this interpretation of muscle memory. Now I want a story that sticks with voluntary organ donations (possibly a little advanced to make the process quicker/smoother/better) and has this “muscle memory” as a side effect.

    Maybe I’m just tired, but I can see this starting out as a quirky comedy, with darker elements introduced a little later. I mean, what happens if a serial killer, wanting to live on in some way even if he/she kicks it, signs up as a donor? Then you’ve got this poor, innocent character accidentally strangling a loved one during an attempted hug.

    Whoops. Should’ve checked the background on those arms better.

    If you get a heart transplant from someone extremely sensitive, do you begin to cry fountains at movies? (I know, I know. But if we’re being ridiculous with muscle memory, we may as well have fun with what a heart can do.)

    1. Farla says:

      You could do a lot of interesting stuff with it, it just can’t work when you’re trying to make a real world point. You could even cobble together a scifi explanation where we spliced octopus DNA in to improve reflexes/brainpower/regen. Our limbs aren’t normally autonomous the way octopus are because they’re far more subordinate to the main brain, but when grafted onto a completely different brain, their learned behavior is now mismatched.

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