Birthday Reviews: Shane Tourtellotte’s “A New Man”

Birthday Reviews: Shane Tourtellotte’s “A New Man”

Cover by Dominic Harman
Cover by Dominic Harman

Shane Tourtellotte was born on November 30, 1968.

Tourtellotte was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2000 and his novelette “The Return of Spring” was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2002.

Tourtellotte has collaborated with Michael A. Burstein and edited an anthology in honor of Hal Clement.

“A New Man” was originally published in the October 2003 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, edited by Stanley Schmidt. It is part of Tourtellotte’s First Impressions series of short stories and has only been reprinted on Tourtellotte’s website.

The main focus of “A New Man” is Josh Muntz’s return home after thirteen years. Muntz attacked three women, killing one of them, but was deemed insane and has spent the last thirteen years in a mental institution. A new technique has allowed the grafting of someone else’s mind onto Josh’s in order to alleviate the violent tendencies that caused him to commit the attacks. Tourtellotte looks at the impact Josh’s crimes and his return have on him and his family.

Tourtellotte gives Josh every advantage he can. In addition to the procedure, he has follow-up visits with both a psychologist and a physician who want to see him succeed. They’ve arranged for him to have a job with a boss who is happy to overlook his past if he does his job, and he has a home to live in with his still-married parents. At the same time, Tourtellotte puts obstacles in his path. While his mother is supportive, his father has a hard time accepting what his son has done and remains distant. Josh himself feels the need to apologize to his victims and their families, despite the advice of his team.

The experiment fails not because Josh feels the need to commit violence, he clearly has had that eradicated, but rather because Josh feels the need to atone for his past sins. Tourtellotte makes a good point that atoning and apologizing are often for the benefit of the perpetrator rather than the victim, although that fact seems lost on Josh’s doctors, who advise him not to reach out to his victims because he needs to deal with himself first.

Reviewed in its only appearance in the magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact, edited by Stanley Schmidt, October 2003.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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