John Kessel. Clean. (Asimovs, March 2011).

A sequel to Kessel’s first Asimov story – ‘Hearts Do Not in Eyes Shine’, all the way back from October 1983.

Alzheimer’s is taking hold of an academic, and he is willing to undergo a drastic memory erasure procedure to halt the insiduous march of the disease. His wife is quite happy with this, their relationship long since close, but the daughter has other ideas. Neither of the characters – father, mother, daughter – are perfect, which helps a story whose central scientific conceit is a little difficult to accept, and there’s a nice balance to the story. Would be interesting to dig out the first story to get full value from this one.

4 thoughts on “John Kessel. Clean. (Asimovs, March 2011).

  1. Kessell based the family in “Clean” on Kij Johnson and her parents. In real life, her dad is taking medication for Alzheimer’s and rebuilds radios for a hobby.

  2. Michael: Though it’s true that Kij told me about her father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, the characters in the story are NOT based on her family in any significant way. Please do not make that assumption. This is a case where a conversation I had with her gave me an idea, but the story and characters are my own invention.

  3. Mr Kessel: I am sorry. “Based” does imply that for “Clean” you just scraped off the serial numbers of (soon to be) Dr. Johnson’s family situation and submitted it to Asimov’s; I understand why you took offense. Maybe “springboard” or “inspiration” or “seed” would have been a better choice.

  4. Mark (sorry I got your name wrong):

    No harm, no foul. I’d just hate to see people assume things about Kij’s family that are not true.


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