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In Name Only · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
The Many Iterations of Deborah Wood
Don’t make a clone and a homunculus of the same person. Seriously. Don’t do it. It’s a bad idea. Really bad.

Sure, it may seem like a good idea at the time. Who doesn’t want to see the love of their life again once they’ve passed on? Nobody, that’s who. Most people just lack the means, which is a tragedy of modern society and the result of unjust distribution of resources, but let’s not get distracted here. The point is that it’s a bad idea.

If you’re gonna make a copy of a person, make either a homunculus or a clone. Not both. See, when there’s two clones of a person, they recognize that they’re both clones from the source of DNA and genetically exactly the same. So, there’s no difference between them, and no arguments about who is the real person. The same goes for two homunculi whose bodies are built as a human-like shell to house a soul and split the soul of the person right down the middle between the two of them. They intuitively recognize that they’re two halves of the same whole.

But when there’s a homunculus and a clone… Christ. They just won’t stop arguing.

“I am a perfect genetic copy of the original Deborah Wood. You’re just an abomination built from dark magic! A cheap imitation!” Clone Deborah boasts to Homunculus Deborah.

“Fuck you, bitch! I have Deborah’s soul! I’m as real a Deborah as there can be! You’re just a soulless husk!” Homunculus Deborah retorts.

“Please ladies, you’re both equally Deborah,” I say sheepishly.

They always do this at dinner. I fiddle with my fork absentmindedly with the two dishes of spaghetti both Deborahs have made for me. I’m careful to eat both dishes at the same time and take equal portions from each plate. Can’t show favorites.

Homunculus Deborah’s spaghetti is obviously better. Clone Deborah's tastes blander and more artificial. Might be the soul that makes the difference, but I don’t dare say that.

“That’s not an answer!” Clone Deborah protests. She has a bit of a chip on her shoulder because I made her first. She’s a been more insecure since I made Homunculus Deborah. Needs a lot of validation.

I try the diplomatic route. “Look, while you two are not exactly the same Deborah, you’re both equally valid iterations of Deborah.”

Both Deborahs huff at this, obviously unsatisfied.

“But which Deborah is the better Deborah?” Homunculus Deborah asks, dripping with honeyed smugness. She seems to intuitively know she’s the superior chief and has a bit of an ego since she has Deborah’s real soul and whatnot.

I know better at this point than to respond to that question and simply jam forkfuls of spaghetti into my mouth. There is more spaghetti than I can deal with, but come hell or high water, I have to finish it, otherwise they’re just gonna have another argument.

Clone Deborah slams her fist on the table. “Why did you make her? Am I not good enough for you?” Her breathing is haggard and her eyes are beginning to water.

Here we go again.

“Deborah, I’ve told you this before. When you love something, you naturally want more of it. It’s not because you’re any less Deborah than the other Deborah.”

In response, Clone Deborah hurls her plate at the wall, splattering pasta sauce all over it, and raining plate shards down on my innocent white carpet.

“I’ll clean that up!” Homunculus Deborah chirps.

“No, I’ll get it!” Clone Deborah rushes over, and the two frantically attempt to pick up more plate bits than the other.

“Back off, bitch!” Homunculus Deborah slaps Clone Deborah’s hand away from some plate shards.

“Fuck you!” Clone Deborah slaps her right back, this time on the face.


“Break it up!” I yell.

“She started it!” both Deborahs say in unison.

Homunculi Deborah takes this small opportunity of false contrition to shove Clone Deborah into the wall, rattling nearby picture frames and dislodging several books from my research shelf.

“Hey!” I grab Homunculi Deborah, but something else seems to have distracted her.

“Honey, dear, what exactly is that?” she points at a leather-bound book, her voice practically burning with acid.

It’s a book titled, “An In-Depth Guide to Replicant Construction.”

Both Deborahs are staring daggers into my heart.

“Yes, care to enlighten us?” Clone Deborah picks up a particularly sharp shard of plate.

I back away slowly, getting ready to run.

“Ladies, ladies, please. I can explain!”
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#1 ·
· · >>Cassius
Hmm. That’s somehwat funny, but there’s no real story here. You have a good premise, but you don’t really bear it besides that scene, and even then, once you’ve explained how they are jealous one of the other, that’s about all we get to see.

It’s more a skit than a story.
#2 ·
· · >>Cassius
Is the joke here meant to be that a Replicant is a different creature than either a clone or a homunculus, and that homeboy is planning on making a third Deborah? On first read, I just took "replicant" as a catch-all term for any duplicated person, so if that was the intent, it didn't land until a second reading.
#3 ·

Is the joke here meant to be that a Replicant is a different creature than either a clone or a homunculus, and that homeboy is planning on making a third Deborah?

Yes, that is the joke.
#4 ·
· · >>Cassius
I want to write a quick review before the day is done and this story is the perfect candidate because it's great.

For real. Great opening line, great quick-fire comedy, great character work, and a perfect, yet unexpected ending for what was presented.

I can think of suggestions, but I worry that they would just take away from the comedy, so I won't bring 'em up. My only comment is that you switched from calling H. Deborah 'Homounculus' to 'Homunculi' a couple times. Really incisive commentary, I know, but there you go.

I think this will end up top of my slate. There's a lot of serious entries this round so far but they've... kinda been missing the mark with me. Credit where it's due, this is fun and well-executed.

Thanks for submitting!
#5 ·
· · >>horizon >>Cassius
Okay, this was really fun. it's funny, and I can feel for the two ladies as to how they're supposed to relate to each other. I do have some doubts about how the mechanics of this are supposed to work, though.

Clone Deborah came first. She wouldn't have to, necessarily, but she did. Maybe your idea of how forming a homunculus works is different from mine, but I'd have to think you do it at the moment of death. If you do it before that, then you're pretty explicitly killing her. If you do it after, then you're retrieving her soul from wherever it's gone, and that seems extreme, difficult, and either wonderful or awful for her, depending on where her soul had ended up. But this means he cloned Deborah before she died, and that's just creepy. Maybe she'd been in a vegetative state at that point? Enquiring minds want to know!

It's obvious why those two wouldn't want any more copies of her, but as put-upon as our protagonist is, I don't understand why he'd want any more of them.

Now. This guy comes across as incredibly despicable and self-serving, so I'm left to wonder why these Deborahs show such devotion to him. I don't understand it from their viewpoint. Unless they were designed to be that way, in which case this just became much more creepy.

I can't tell whether the switch from "homunculus" to "homunculi" is supposed to mean anything. Just a typo? She somehow split in two? Or the replicant already exists and has now copied that one? (Is the clone version going to be pissed the replicant didn't choose her to copy?) The way it's used would have them operating in perfect unison, which wouldn't seem to accomplish anything for the guy. A nice little "aha!" moment for the reader to realize, but not something that makes sense in the story. (And you somewhat obscure that, if it's the case, by continuing to use singular "her" as a pronoun.)

On the surface, this is a fun and funny story, but one that on a bit of examination starts to become disturbing and even lose a sense of internal logic. Suspension of disbelief is easier to grant in the name of comedy, however. There's not a strong arc to this one, but it's there, just weakened by the sense that the protagonist isn't working toward what would seem to be his best interests, so I don't understand him.
#6 · 2
· · >>Cassius
Alternate Title: There's Vomit on His Sweater Already, Mom's Spaghetti

Q: Here we are again.

A: Raisin's back, tell a friend.

Q: Great to be back on the show?

A: Yeah, it's great to be back so soon.

Q: And with the final entry in the lineup, correct?

A: Yeah, and thank goodness, because I'm getting sick of all these stories now. Especially this one.

Q: You weren't a fan of "The Many Iterations of Deborah Wood"?

A: Nah, bro.

Q: A lot of other people seem to like it.

A: Well, they're wrong. Scientifically, objectively wrong. In fact I've been typing up an Excel spreadsheet for the past hour, explaining how objectively wrong these people are.

Q: That sounded sarcastic.

A: You're welcome.

Q: Before we get too deep into this, because I can tell by looking at your resting bitch face that you have a lot on your mind right now, how about we get a quick recap and opening thesis on the entry in question?

A: Sure thing. Okay, so... this is basically the premise for an unwanted harem comedy. If you watch a good deal of anime, you're guaranteed to run into a few of these. Hapless dude accumulates a collection of girls who want to boink him. It's a sub-genre that, for the most part, caters to males who desperately want female attention, yet are too insecure to actually get any. It's a power fantasy disguised as oh-woe-is-me comedy, and in fairness to "Deborah Wood," the story seems to subvert that premise.

Q: How so?

A: Nobody wants to be in the protagonist's position, do they? It's not like your typical harem comedy where you've got a bunch of beautiful women with lovely personalities and diverse sets of knockers; the girlfriend iterations here are bitchier than a drag queen trying to herd a hundred cats. Frankly I don't understand why you would want to bring that specific girl back from the dead; she would give Satan a hard time in the pits of Hell, let me tell ya.

Q: Sounds pretty funny to me.

A: I mean, it might be? Some people think it's funny, and good for them. I can see the appeal, at least in theory. Before I even read this entry, the title gave me a spark of optimism; it's eye-catching, it's high-concept, and it makes you curious about what you're getting into. I like it.

Q: What else do you like about this story?

A: Um... the setup? What little of it there is. Guy wants to bring dead girlfriend back. Guy creates clone of dead girlfriend. Guy then creates homunculus of dead girlfriend. It escalates and breeds ripe material for comedy.

Q: Is that it?

A: Pretty much. Technically speaking it's a fine piece. Some people have mentioned switching between "homunculus" and "homunculi," but personally I didn't notice or mind.

Q: And everything else is trash?

A: Well...

Q: Choose your words wisely, Mr. Raisin.

A: I think there are two massive problems I have with this entry, as opposed to a lot of entries I don't like where it's more death-by-a-thousand-cuts and all that. Firstly, the setup; there's next to none of it. We get a few sentences about how you shouldn't make a homunculus and a clone of the same person, but that's about it. We don't even know why the protagonist did this, who, I might add, is a three-ton bag of shit.

Q: Is the protagonist the second problem?

A: No, he's an extension of the first. You see, we never get to understand what the fuck is going through this guy's head, or why he does what he does. In previous entries there are some very questionable characters, morally speaking, but at least we as readers are given good ideas of cause-and-effect with them, what makes them tick.

Q: But this is a comedy, and cause-and-effect shouldn't matter so much, right?

A: On the contrary, cause-and-effect is crucial to telling a good joke. In my opinion. But like I've said, this is totally not my opinion; it's actually a mathematical conclusion I came to that is completely objectively true, swear on me mum.

Q: You're being pretty snappy about having to explain yourself.

A: That's because it's easier to justify finding something funny than it is to justify not finding something funny. For example, I think Freddy Got Fingered is a really funny movie, and I don't fear being taken to task on that, but say, not finding Amy Schumer's stand-up routines funny requires a lot more of a "Well it's just my opinion" pretense. Not to mention that if you don't find something funny, it's kind of a dilemma, because it's kind of like not finding a horror movie scary. "Why didn't I laugh? Why wasn't I scared?" You could just say it's purely irrational and not worth explaining, but I have my doubts.

Q: So what rubs you the wrong way about this entry? Or rather, why didn't it make you laugh?

A: As I said before, part of it has to do with how this is basically one long payoff to a setup that's barely there. It feels unearned, because we get maybe fifty words of setup and then, bam, we're thrown into a long and agonizing conversation that bites off more than it can chew. There's also the protagonist, who seems both amoral and completely idiotic, to the point of alienating those who actually suffer from low intelligence. Let's think about this. Why does he make a clone, then a homunculus, and then apparently is going to make an android? The closest to an explanation that we get is that this guy, this bro, is an amoral scientist type who will do anything in the name of exploration. But his personality is so poorly defined through the prose, which is his narration, that we don't get that impression.

Q: Hmm. That's a mood. But you said there was something else that didn't work for you.

A: Oh yeah, the other thing. The dialogue. Mainly the dialogue between the Deborah iterations, which some people seem to find really funny, and hey, I get it. The dialogue is fast-paced, high-octane, obscene, absurd... but it tries way too damn hard for me. Just having two bitchy girls verbally spar is not in itself funny, and throwing in a few fucks won't necessarily make it funnier either. Again, totally scientific assessment, nobody can challenge me on this. But with that said, for real, I found the dialogue particularly aggravating on a second reading, because for some reason I was expecting more from it, now that I was reading with foreknowledge and a clearer mindset. It's like, okay, they're being bitchy, but what else? What is actually the joke? Because that can't be just it, can it?

Q: You sound bitter about the fact that this comedy has been well-received, more so than a certain comedy you might've written, which is only getting a mild amount of praise, a lot of which comes from you, the possible author.

A: What is this, psychoanalysis? A lot of the execution here didn't click with me. I could've just left it at that, but I felt the need to explain my position, because it's almost one of those instances where you have to wonder if you and the people around you experienced the same thing or not. You have to ask yourself, "Am I reading this wrong?" Maybe I am; maybe I'm just being a sourpuss about a story that, as a comedy, succeeds on some objective level, whatever that may be. I don't have a bachelor's degree in deconstructing comedy, ya know.

Q: Good to know.

A: With that said, I don't really have anything else to add. I can see this entry doing pretty well when the final countdown comes around; it has elements that resonate with several people on a comedic level, so hell, maybe it does deserve a high spot. I've been wrong plenty of times before.

Q: Before we end this discussion, I need to ask something. Call it random, but... are you still bitter about "The Burning" only getting 6th place in a prior round?

A: ...maybe a little bit.
#7 ·
· · >>Cassius
“Fuck you, bitch! I have Deborah’s soul!"

... and I'm just left wondering why the protagonist wants this woman back in the first place.

Actually, let's just quote >>Pascoite for truth:
It's obvious why those two wouldn't want any more copies of her, but as put-upon as our protagonist is, I don't understand why he'd want any more of them.

Now. This guy comes across as incredibly despicable and self-serving, so I'm left to wonder why these Deborahs show such devotion to him. I don't understand it from their viewpoint. Unless they were designed to be that way, in which case this just became much more creepy.

This may just be a personal thing, author. I mean, it's not like I get butthurt when I read a story about (say) Twilight Sparkle getting excited when Rainbow Dash dies because it gives her an excuse for necromancy. The idea of "a character doing dumb or ridiculous things because it's funny" is a stock trope in comedy and there's nothing wrong with it in the abstract. But when all of the characters are so unrelentingly unlikeable and full of red flags, it sure makes it hard for me to focus on the comedy of it.

Clearly it works with some of your other readers. YMMV.

Thanks for writing! And that's all my fic reviews done.
#8 ·
· · >>Cassius
If your magic system accounts for the soul and it seems to work like the real soul, I kinda feel like that version of the wife wins by default.

Ironically I had more of a problem with this story than Male-Order Bride, since I feel the Problematic stuff is a bit more on display here what with some fairly literal objectification and the fairly comedy normalized two women play along with it and even fight over the man who clearly just needs a goddamn smack sorta thing. Outside that it is fine. I don't have a lot to add.

Prompt relevance... wrong because the homunculus being in possession of her soul should be the real one.
#9 · 3
So, I just barely managed to squeak in this story right before submissions closed, and as a result, the final product was exactly as concrete as I had hoped it to be. Not. You know that feeling you get when you have an idea that feels like a surefire winner, but you don't exactly know what you're going to do with it or how it's going to play out, and you're just hoping you execute it right? That was essentially the feeling I had with this entry.

The initial product was intended to be more philosophical about what makes a person's identity (although according to >>AndrewRogue, the question has an easy answer), but as I was writing it, I decided that I wouldn't be able to fit a lot of the more visceral questions into the final product itself, and reformatted it to be more in the line of a sitcom-ish style about a hapless mad-scientist-esque guy besieged by two nagging wives (who actually have a very good reason to be upset with him). I wouldn't characterize this as a "straight" comedy, and I think a piece with more room to breathe would end up looking more like an absurd drama with comedic moments. Perhaps I was trying to do too much at once here.

There's a certain subtext, however, that I endeavored to preserve, and an undercurrent of black comedy that is intentionally put into the product itself and which several readers identified (namely, >>AndrewRogue, >>horizon, >>Pascoite, and probably >>Miller Minus) wherein the protagonist is an absolute sack of shit and basically a creepy sociopath who is strongly implied to be doing this so he can have more Deborahs to add to his sampling platter. The humor (for me) is derived from the main character suffering as a result of his actions. If there is any character designed to be sympathetic, it is Clone Deborah, and absolutely not the protagonist. What's odd to me is that you all FIGURED THIS OUT yet acted as if it was something I was doing unintentionally. If I had more time and a little more space, I may have made this dynamic for transparently visible in the narrative, but again, I was under a bit of a time crunch and couldn't fine tune it more to get that tone just right. Nonetheless, I do bristle a bit when being labelled with the big P (for "Problematic" by >>AndrewRogue).

“Deborah, I’ve told you this before. When you love something, you naturally want more of it. It’s not because you’re any less Deborah than the other Deborah.”

While I don't really highlight this line that specifically by anything in the narrative, this is meant to be analogous to the same sort of logic that cheaters use to justify their cheating to their spouse. It's really a hideous thing to say, and I'm happy that almost all of you at least picked up on it, even if the story perhaps didn't enough to indicate why he was saying it. The protagonist is a manipulative, bad person.

I hear some grumblings about the portrayal of the women as sort of stereo-typically basing their existence around a man, again by that cad >>AndrewRogue. I'm aware that that what I'm about to say requires a little leap from the reader to understand what I was going for, but I think there's sufficient enough implication: being literally "created" by someone drastically alters the power dynamic between people, especially when it's in an effort to "replace" someone else. I mean, it would be pretty fucked up if your dad said that he made you specifically for the purpose of replacing your dead brother, and it would definitely affect how you perceived the world around you as well as your priorities.

Both Deborah's deal with this differently, but subtle ways: Homuculus Deborah puts on a boastful and showy display of superiority and tries to earn the protagonist's favoritism through denigrating Clone Deborah, and Clone Deborah tries to get reassurance that she's acting sufficiently "Deborah" from the protagonist.


There is too much to individually respond to, but it is amusing that you pretty much consistently draw the right inference from what I was going for, yet nonetheless say, "It's never said in the narrative!"


We don't even know why the protagonist did this, who, I might add, is a three-ton bag of shit.

This is actually directly explained.

Also it's very shameful and embarrassing that you enjoyed Freddy Got Fingered, and you should probably keep such scandalous details to yourself in the future.



Anyways, thank you all for reading. Special thanks to Miller for being a fan, and (seemingly) appreciating a lot of the finer points I was trying to make within the story itself. I didn't expect this story to be anyone's favorite, so it was a nice surprise to see that I actually not one but two top slates this round.

Now if only I could find that voodoo doll...