Constance is a sci-fi thriller with a catchy premise and a fun mystery. Ultimately? The story stays as dangerous as the buccaneer theme park ride. There are some fun dips with the occasional rush but mostly slows to a predictable course.
Title: Constance (2021) Author: Matthew FitzSimmons Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Book jacket: A breakthrough in human cloning becomes one woman’s waking nightmare in a mind-bending thriller by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Gibson Vaughn series. Joe Says: Constance is a sci-fi thriller with a catchy premise and a fun mystery but downgrades to a slow, predictably convenient ride.
Constance D’Arcy is a clone seeking out who killed her original self. See, fun, right? In the near future of 2040, cloning is available for the rich, the renown, the red. The company on the forefront of this tech, Palingenesis, was co-founded by Constance’s aunt Abigail, who has bequeathed a clone to her favorite niece. Why a struggling musician would be killed is a question Con, the clone, races to find out – as the clone learns that she, too, is hunted.
Constance starts with quite the kick and Matthew Fitzsimmons drops more bombshells in the first half than D-Day at Normandy. Once that initial jumping and jiving runs it course, the story falls into genre routine. Convenience plays its hand too many times and even some of the smaller questions have all-too blatant answers.
What makes Constance a good read are witnessing the organic revelations Fitzsimmons provides as he builds this world. The sci-fi is maintained at pedestrian levels. Believable tech in a believable world where global warming is at an all-time high and scientists still take a backseat to social media rhetoric. Yes, Fox News still exists in this dark future. The cloning MacGuffin itself is far from Star Wars troopers or the artificial replicants of Blade Runner. Cloning in Constance is essentially a one-shot chance at the continuation of life where all of one’s memories and self is downloaded into a grown copy of the original’s body. And all this happens specifically at the time of death. This is not sleeve-hopping ala Altered Carbon. Within, Fitzsimmons contests on the political ramifications of such available tech with debates that make Zuckerberg’s public castration look like a red carpet dance.
Constance dips once that accelerator has been released. The cannot-catch-your-breath thrill ride downgrades into a British cozy mystery without the tea and scones. Constance reads like a six-part Netflix series when it should be a two-hour Doug Liman movie.
Fitzsimmons is a writer who gets better with each progression. The middle books of his Gibson Vaughn series can keep pace with the best out there. Maybe Constance simply needs to age. And perhaps not in a birthing matrix.