Ted Kosmatka, "N-Words"

After getting cloned back into existence, modern neanderthals suffer the familiar struggles of the different.

(from Seeds of Change)

They came from test tubes. They came pale as ghosts with eyes as blue-white as glacier ice. They came first out of Korea.

Kind of an awesome race-relations story. And, as per sci-fi tradition, the monster here was… man! High-concept, you might call it, but mostly driven by supple, vivid prose. (Listen to an audio version of the story here.) I haven’t read anything quite like this before, but long after put the book down, I realized the idea wasn’t a completely foreign one.

Those frakkin Geico Cavemen. Seems like most of my fellow humans now hate, or have always hated, those shelf-browed accidental pitchmen, who started out as mango-salsa eating metrosexuals and now seem to just be broken-spirited dudes who just want you to let them be themselves for awhile. I never saw the doomed TV show, no regrets there — it was likely the hideous result of a marketing hivemind straying from its natural habitat. Lame, I mean.

But I do actually feel bad for those guys. Everywhere they go, they are reminded of the prevailing myth that they are stupid, inferior, without equality in society. They can’t even bowl without having their flat noses rubbed in the bigotry of their oppressors. ’Cause down comes that Geico-logoed pinsetter to put them in their place.
And the real twist of the knife is this: It’s all a joke. These cavemen, who never asked to exist, show up just long enough to be shat on by their creator (who may or may not be a smug, colonialist gecko; at the very least, he’s their overpaid golden boy peer). But what is clearly true psychic pain to them, is, inexplicably, a way to sell car insurance for some unseen but inescapable corporation. I don’t mean to belittle those who, you know, actually currently exist and still struggle for equal treatment and rights, but I wonder if they don’t see themselves in these downtrodden straw cavemen who were created only because mocking every other upright subset of the human experience has been taken off the table when it comes to acceptable derision.

When they came for the cavemen, we said nothing because we knew there was nobody else for them to come for.

Except aliens. And Big Foot. Possibly ghosts.

But after that, we could tell ourselves that, in polite conversation and publicly aired commercials, all sentient beings were guaranteed the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, allowed to be themselves for awhile.

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