I'm not sure about any of the following.

Seen in a book in a bookshop, looked like quite an old story.

There are a lot of men who are duplicates of each other, clones maybe. They begin to disappear mysteriously one by one. I'm not sure whether they were seen to literally disappear or whether they just went out into the street and never came back. Someone investigates to find out what happened, but can't find out.

One of the duplicates (possibly the last man standing) escapes this fate for a while by staying indoors and never going out, but after some time tells the investigator that he can't stand hiding any longer "waiting for the goblins that get you if you don't watch out". (Which is a reference to a poem called "Little Orphant Annie" (sic), but searching for that doesn't seem to turn up the story). He says he'll go out and see what happens.

I'm not sure I read far enough to see whether he disappeared or not.

Anyone have any idea what this is?

  • 1
    The poem: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Orphant_Annie
    – tgdavies
    Nov 15, 2022 at 5:36
  • 1
    Was this a short story in a collection, or a novel?
    – tgdavies
    Nov 15, 2022 at 5:39
  • Can't remember, if I even saw at the time, sorry.
    – A. B.
    Nov 15, 2022 at 6:25
  • 2
    What about it made you think "old"? How old do you mean?
    – tgdavies
    Nov 15, 2022 at 8:09
  • Not sure, sorry - I possibly got that idea from the writing style rather than anything more specific. Possibly pre-mobile phones and computers (or at least realistic ones rather than speculative future ones), anyway.
    – A. B.
    Nov 16, 2022 at 6:11

1 Answer 1


Could this be Roger Zelazny's Today We Choose Faces, from 1973?

In part 2, we see a succession of characters being assassinated, and eventually realize that they were all clones of the main character in part 1.

  • The one Zelazny book I couldn't finish. Nov 16, 2022 at 5:17
  • It doesn't look like it - it seemed like a fairly normal setting, and from a look at Wikipedia "Today We Choose Faces" seems to be set partly on a planet that's uninhabited except for one scientist and partly in a weird computer-controlled facility. Thanks though!
    – A. B.
    Nov 16, 2022 at 6:16
  • Oh well—it was the only clone/murder story that came to mind, Apropos Organic Marble's comment, although it was never a favourite, I don't think Zelazny has worn well,
    – Barnaby
    Nov 16, 2022 at 18:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.