Bill Owen's short story The Clone Trial is set in the not-too-distant future when human reproduction has hit a wall, and cloning has taken its place. Laws have been put in place to limit these activities. Also clones are prohibited from reproducing. This is where I had my biggest problem with the premise of the story, as I couldn't understand how the human race was supposed to survive under these restraints. Anyway, the story concerns itself with a human who is accused of murdering one of his clones.
The jury is made up of an assortment of beings from around the Galaxy, including a shape-shifter and a being who can mesmerize others into telling the truth. It occurred to me that this last ability could have been used by the authorities to get to the bottom of the matter at hand entirely without the aid of a jury. Indeed, I would have thought the whole justice system could have had a makeover based on this ability alone.
The whole thing takes place in the jury room as they consider their verdict. Notwithstanding the occasional flashes from the Cloning Commission to help explain the laws and regulations, and a couple of glaring info-dumps, this is a fun read - a sort of 12 Angry Men with aliens. I particularly liked the wonderful talking bird who seemed to suffer from Tourette's Syndrome.
I think Bill could have made more of the story. It could have been as much as 100% longer, allowing more time and space to feed the background information to the reader in a more digestible form, and maybe exploring some of the alternative plot lines.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)