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The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 08, 2008, 02:41:04 AM
by CCC
Hmmm. "Joey", as in "small kangaroo", a good general name for small children. I liked the twist in this story, although I was rather surprised Joey's end; apparently their attempts to weed out any violence were not entirely successful. I assume that giving all small children the same name was supposed to dehumanise them enough that this test was possible in the first place.

Although I'm impressed that no rumours escaped to the Joeys; evidently their security for the test is very good indeed.

An intriguing story. I hope it never becomes necessary.

Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 10, 2008, 05:52:27 PM
by Bill_Wolfe
I agree that the 'Joey' device is inspired.  It made perfect sense within context, but I don't think I've ever seen it, before, when referring to a society's own children.  

The story reminded me, however, of another short about a boy about to take an intelligence test and asking his father a series of questions--all of which are answered incorrectly.

He rides a bus with other kids his age and sits in a bland clasroom preparing for the test.

The next scene is a knock on the parents' door and an equally bland fellow informing them that their son scored too high and asking where they would like the ashes sent.

Does anybody remember the title of this thing? I've been trying to search it for two days and it's driving me batty (or battier than usual, anyway.)

Beyond this, I found the story quite good, if a little easy to anticipate.

Bill Wolfe

Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 10, 2008, 06:28:28 PM
by Robert_Moriyama
The practice of earning a different adult name is not unheard of -- the idea that there would be only ONE name for all male children (? who knows what rite of passage is imposed on female children) is unusual. Personally, I anticipated that the target of the Kill would be human (maybe an exiled Joey) -- but the second twist came as a surprise.

We are, of course, left with the question of how they reconcile the presence of executioners in their midst if the capacity to kill is itself a capital crime... They seem to be at least a couple of generations into this system (since Joey's father took the test himself), but they have deliberately retained killers in their midst. It might have made more sense if the failures were killed in a less direct, less violent way (something gentle, like the euthanasia process in "Soylent Green").

RM

Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 21, 2008, 06:15:28 PM
by Megawatts
Good story, and one that has a moral. But in all honestly I can’t say that the story is new. I’ve read so many similar stories---some set in space on far-away planets, some in literature---but the moral is the same.

Now to the good points. This one is well written with all the techniques needed to hold a reader’s interest. Good description, good use of dialogue, and good use of non-verbal communication such as sensory inputs, and wording that gives one a fell for the setting. And easy to read and follow.

Peter’s son had just been eliminated from this society--I think that is a better expression that killed. Yet, Peter didn’t show much emotion, just red around his eyes and tears on his cheeks.

What is to be, must be. Almost like a religious cult, for Peter accepted it. But this was not a fair test!


"Dad…" Joey paused. He shifted his glance from Peter to the side window. "What if I don't make the kill?"

Silence hung in the air. Joey didn't want to look. He kept staring at the snow outside. Then, when there still was no answer, he turned. His father was smiling at him.

"You'll succeed, don't be nervous." Peter brought a hand down on Joey's shoulder and squeezed. There was steel in that squeeze, but Joey didn't cringe.


This dialogue tells me that Joey believed that his father wanted him to kill! A thirteen-year old will unquestionably follow a parent’s wishes in most cases!

                                                                              ***************                            


Joey lowered the gun and looked at Peter. "Dad, I can't kill that, it's a person. Everything we've ever learned has told us that taking a human life is wrong."

Peter looked into his son's eyes. "Is that your decision then, are you rejecting your kill? Are you willing to risk being sent away?"


Think about Peter’s answer here and go back to when you were thirteen. True, we can’t hear Peter’s inflections as he speaks nor his tone, but to me a kid would interpret it as if his father wanted him to do it!


A well written story, however, the exchange between Peter and his son didn't work for me.



Good writing!

Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 22, 2008, 08:55:08 AM
by Bill_Wolfe
Fair test? No, probably not. But this test isn't about fair.

This society seems to be trying--through admittedly draconian means--to completely wipe-out the propensity for killing others.

Think about it. What if ten thousand years ago the only humans to be allowed to survive and breed were the ones who would rather face banishment than to take the life of a fellow human?

Well, Nader would be President but still, the world would be a very different place.

Though I'm not sure about one thing after re-reading the story. . .is this test just for boys? Girls would have the same ability to pass-on the 'murderer' gene as a boy would.

Hmmmmmm........

My argument might need a little further thought.

Bill Wolfe


Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 22, 2008, 01:43:49 PM
by Megawatts
Bill,

The propensity to kill others would show itself without any external stimutation.

Place a gun in Joey's arms, explain that he can kill the animal or not kill the animal, then set back and watch.

Remain completetly neutral as to if you want him to kill, or don't want him to kill!

Get the picture.

We all do thing against our nature. External forces can turn a mild person into a raving idiot.

A child will follow a big brother, sister, father or mother. At thirteen, a boy is still under the hynotic
eyes of a father or mother. In general that's the way it is. There's alway an exception, but for the most part a boy will try to full-fill a father's wishes, at that age!


I was an exception

At ten I ran away from home and joined a circus. They trained me to be a pick-pocket and work the crowds. Boy was that fun. However, me and the ring-master got into an argument!! I finally stabbed him with a knife that I had picked out of someone's pocket the day before.

I ran out of the big-top----clowns and an elephant man was chasing me with ball-peen hammers but I got away from them, then....

Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 22, 2008, 04:26:42 PM
by CCC
however, the exchange between Peter and his son didn't work for me.


I felt that that's where it became important to note that the Joeys all had the same name; they were therefore seen, by society, as "less than human", as a faceless mass. Throughout history, those societies who have seen another group of humans as "less than human" have done the most appalling things to them - slavery, murder, conquest, etc., etc. - because they weren't 'real people' and didn't count.

See:

- American settler's treatment of Indians
- British and French treatment of Bantu tribes in Africa
- Bantu tribes' treatment of the Khoisan just before the British arrived
- Australian treatment of Aborigines
- Spanish treatment of the Aztecs

Admittedly, I know of no historical society which treated their own children in this manner... though if you look around enough, you might well find one or two.

Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 22, 2008, 04:41:14 PM
by gino_ss
I've heard that the rite of passage of some central African tribes requires the boy go out and kill a lion with a spear. Don't know if this is factual or not, but suppose for the sake of argument that it is. Now suppose the boy fails. A free meal for the lion? Or a two-entree repast for the tribe?

gino

Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 22, 2008, 04:50:36 PM
by Bill_Wolfe
Bill,

The propensity to kill others would show itself without any external stimutation.

Place a gun in Joey's arms, explain that he can kill the animal or not kill the animal, then set back and watch.

Remain completetly neutral as to if you want him to kill, or don't want him to kill!

Get the picture.

We all do thing against our nature. External forces can turn a mild person into a raving idiot.

A child will follow a big brother, sister, father or mother. At thirteen, a boy is still under the hynotic
eyes of a father or mother. In general that's the way it is. There's alway an exception, but for the most part a boy will try to full-fill a father's wishes, at that age!



The above describes a very fair and even scientific test.

But that's not what seems to be going on.  This is a Eugenics program.  This society is trying to rid itself of the propensity to kill a human being for anything less than direct threat to yourself or to others.

They can kill the Joeys because they perceive those that pull the trigger to be a threat to them.

And they may be right.  Think about it.  Would you kill an innocent person just because there was mild social pressure (Dad's approval) and a nonlethal threat (banishment)?

These are the characteristics of a modern soldier, when you look at it that way.  Most often, they join when there is no direct threat to their family or their society.  And yes, I know there are exceptions.

Upon reflection, I'm also pretty sure that girls do not face the same test as the boys.  But when you think about it, you don't need as many boys in society as you do girls.  All obvious jokes aside, there is nothing to mandate 50/50 parity in gender population.  

I'd be surprised if more than half the boys survive this test.  Only a very few would be able to say:  "Sorry Dad.  I know you're disappointed and I'll be banished forever, but I just can't kill a person without a really good reason to do so."

And that's the only way to survive this little hunt.  They're literally modifying their gene pool one 'hunt' at a time.  They're not trying to be fair, impartial or even especially straightforward about it.  They are also not trying to 'teach' him not to kill.  They want to see if he has what it takes to refuse to kill.

The concept is brilliant.  .  .scary.

And speaking of scary, there's a clown with a ball-peen hammer in my office asking questions, I'd better go.

Bill Wolfe


Re: The Kill By Mark Phillips

PostPosted: April 22, 2008, 07:00:21 PM
by Megawatts
I see your point, and it is a good one. Escpecially when all the children are called Joey! They harvest
the best and eliminate the rest. A society such as that one could be very critical about who makes it
to manhood. I'll have to re-read the story again from a fascist standpoint and see if I connect.

Got to got now. That clown with the ball-peen hammer is trying to hide in a crowd of Obama and Clinton supporter here in Johnstown, Pa.  But I see him. Personally, I still like Ike!!!