Eye for Eye

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"Eye for Eye"
Eye for Eye ASM.jpg
Author Orson Scott Card
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction
Published in Asimov's Science Fiction
Publication type Periodical
Media type Print (Magazine)
Publication date 1987

Eye for Eye (1987) is a science fiction novella by Orson Scott Card. It first appeared in the March 1987 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine. In 1990 it appeared in Card's short story collection Maps in a Mirror and also as a Tor double novel, with The Tunesmith by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1988.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas."

Orson Scott Card American science fiction novelist

Orson Scott Card is an American novelist, critic, public speaker, essayist, and columnist. He writes in several genres but is known best for science fiction. His novel Ender's Game (1985) and its sequel Speaker for the Dead (1986) both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win both science fiction's top U.S. prizes in consecutive years. A feature film adaptation of Ender's Game, which Card co-produced, was released in 2013.

<i>Asimovs Science Fiction</i> American science fiction magazine

Asimov's Science Fiction is an American science fiction magazine which publishes science fiction and fantasy named after science fiction author Isaac Asimov. It is currently published by Penny Publications. From January 2017, the publication frequency is bimonthly.

Contents

Plot summary

Mick Winger has an unusual gift and with it has accidentally killed several people. When Mick gets angry at people, his power manifests itself by launching an attack upon them by giving them cancer, leukemia or related terminal illnesses. If made angry enough, his anger can outright kill the victim.

Cancer disease of uncontrolled, unregulated and abnormal cell growth

Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes. Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.

Leukemia group of cancers that usually begin in the bone marrow

Leukemia, also spelled leukaemia, is a group of blood cancers that usually begin in the bone marrow and result in high numbers of abnormal blood cells. These blood cells are not fully developed and are called blasts or leukemia cells. Symptoms may include bleeding and bruising problems, feeling tired, fever, and an increased risk of infections. These symptoms occur due to a lack of normal blood cells. Diagnosis is typically made by blood tests or bone marrow biopsy.

Terminal illness or end-stage disease is an incurable disease that cannot be adequately treated and is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient. This term is more commonly used for progressive diseases such as cancer or advanced heart disease than for trauma. In popular use, it indicates a disease that will progress until death with near absolute certainty, regardless of treatment. A patient who has such an illness may be referred to as a terminal patient, terminally ill or simply terminal. There is no standardized life expectancy for a patient to be considered terminal, although it is generally months or less. Life expectancy for terminal patients is a rough estimate given by the physician based on previous data and does not always reflect true longevity. An illness which is lifelong but not fatal is a chronic condition.

Mick was raised in an orphanage and along his journey to manhood unintentionally killed several people who mistreated him, as well as nearly everyone he loved, though nearly every occurrence was accidental. The only intentional murder he describes while growing up is being nearly molested in a Denny's bathroom. This is when he discovers the intensity of the attacks are greatly heightened when he's touching a target. When fifteen, he fled child custody and set out on his own.

Orphanage residential institution devoted to the care of orphans

Historically, an orphanage was a residential institution, or group home, devoted to the care of orphans and other children who were separated from their biological families. Examples of what would cause a child to be placed in orphanages are when the biological parents were deceased, the biological family was abusive to the child, there was substance abuse or mental illness in the biological home that was detrimental to the child, or the parents had to leave to work elsewhere and were unable or unwilling to take the child. The role of legal responsibility for the support of children whose parent(s) have died or are otherwise unable to provide care differs internationally.

Dennys restaurant chain

Denny's is an American table service diner-style restaurant chain. It operates over 1,600 restaurants in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, The Dominican Commonwealth, Guatemala, Japan, Honduras, New Zealand, Qatar, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Curaçao, and the United Kingdom.

When Mick becomes angry, he gets, as he describes it, "sparky." He can see sparks surrounding and enveloping him and then those sparks lashing out on the object of his anger. Unavoidably, those attacked by his "sparks" end up with terminal illnesses and soon die. The effect of his attack is much more pronounced if he is touching the victim.

Until he was a young man, Mick had no idea he was different from other children. He discovered he was different when describing "sparkiness" with other children, who had no idea what he was talking about.

Soon after setting out on his own, he encounters a young woman who not only knows about his gift, but who even seems to possess the same gift, although to a lesser extent. She however possesses the ability to "call," to influence Mick so that he unintentionally heads straight for her, as well as intense sexual attraction, which she describes as simple pheromones that all people have, except that people like Mick, due to a different biochemical makeup (though Mick doesn't understand this when it is first explained to him), is far more susceptible to these pheromones than a normal human being.

Pheromone secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species

A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting like hormones outside the body of the secreting individual, to impact the behavior of the receiving individuals. There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. Pheromones are used from basic unicellular prokaryotes to complex multicellular eukaryotes. Their use among insects has been particularly well documented. In addition, some vertebrates, plants and ciliates communicate by using pheromones.

Eventually he is led back to his birth parents, who are members of a mysterious, secluded colony. Talking to his parents, who also possess his ability, he learns he is far more powerful than they or probably anyone else at the colony. Mick learns that what he sees as "sparks" his family only sees as dust; he even begins to realize that he can see when people are lying. After being brought to the villages Patriarch, Papa Lem, Mick learns the intent of the colony and how they operate. Mick then refuses to "spread his seed" with the daughter of Papa Lem and returns to his parents' house for the night. During the night, Mick is attacked by an agent of Papa Lem and others from the village. Mick ends up killing his father and setting fire to the village while at the same time learning new extents to his abilities.

After fleeing the village on foot, Mick runs into the girl he met when he first set out on his own. The assailants from the village quickly catch up with the duo and start firing at them. The woman, unbeknown to Mick, is shot in the back of the head just as they reach their allies. Mick pulls the girl from her wrecked car and puts all his "sparkiness" into her just before passing out.

Mick awakes in the lair of his new allies. Upon questioning, Mick learns that the girl is alive and that he had somehow healed her from the bullet wound. Mick is on his way to officially meet the young lady when the story abruptly ends.

See also

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) is a database of bibliographic information on genres considered speculative fiction, including science fiction and related genres such as fantasy fiction and horror fiction. The ISFDB is a volunteer effort, with both the database and wiki being open for editing and user contributions. The ISFDB database and code are available under Creative Commons licensing and there is support within both Wikipedia and ISFDB for interlinking. The data are reused by other organizations, such as Freebase, under the creative commons license.

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