Review: Racing Prejudice by John Frye III

When I was a kid I had a friend who had lost a hand. He had at some point put something in an electrical outlet and lost his hand. At the time he wore nothing on his arm except from time to time a sock and now that I’m an adult I am aware it bothered him, as a kid he showed no signs of embarrassment. From time to time when I see modern day prosthetic I am amazed by how different things would have been. The same kid now would have a cool Iron Man hand and probably could have been playing video games and all the other things that the rest of my friends did and based on the continuing advances he might have even had an advantage.

I hope they have changed his life for the better as they have so many kids, but in “Racing Prejudice” by John Frye III we see one of the minor points that has began to pop up. In “Racing Prejudice” it is the ability to grow limbs rather than artificial but it’s the same basic idea. What happens when someone can use artificial limbs to push past human limits. Can you refuse to let someone with prosthetic legs race because it would be unfair to everyone else, or let them race, and likely win, forcing anyone else who wants to become the best racer in the world to understand that the only compete at the top level is to maim themselves? It’s a real issue in the real world, and while it’s still limited to top level sports so far, there is no reason to expect that it may affect average people’s ability to get good jobs.

“Racing Prejudice” By John Frye III combines this with as the title implies the natural prejudice that so many people have against anything new, and for genetic modification or cybernetics. The idea of frankenfoods will be leveled at humans if we ever make advances quickly enough to be noticed, instead of at the pace we are now where we avoid certain genetic diseases.

Almost the entire argument is crammed into this one story that while under a thousand words also gets the story of this 400 meter race and some personality into the story. It does this by not spending all that much time discussing how the technology works and trusting the reader to make most of the connections without having their hands held.

Not being a runner in any capacity I can’t speak to the accuracy of the story of the race itself, but it feels like a real race and the decisions in it make sense. Even the friendly competition of people who are in a sport mostly about being the best for the sake of being the best rather than money, or even really competition feels right.

“Racing Prejudice,” touches on a lot of interesting subjects and trusts the reader to understand everything from genetic engineering to natural prejudice and even touches on the story of Jesse Owens without ever mentioning it. This allows it to cover a lot of ground at a good pace and is well written. You can be find in the January 2014 issue of Analog magazine. As the name John Frye III is more common than one would expect I could not find a personal website.