A Clean Escape

A Clean Escape is a 1985 short story by John Kessel, later adapted into a play by Kessel in 1986. The story was first published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in May 1985. It features a psychiatrist attempting to cure a special patient of his amnesia. Slowly, as the patient regains his memory, more and more secrets are revealed about who this person is and the truth about their civilization as a whole.

The story was adapted by Sam Egan as the script for the first episode of Masters of Science Fiction, which first aired August 4, 2007. A psychiatrist is treating a weapons manufacturer with anterograde amnesia, whose memories reboot once every 12 hours, leading him to believe he has just left his family to go to work but has been sent to the company shrink for evaluation. In reality however, much, much more time has passed than the viewer is originally led to believe. As the patient's memories are slowly becoming untangled, showing hints at a corporate conspiracy, but the actual truth of the matter is much worse than that. The corporate power play did happen, but that was decades ago - in reality, the patient had used his business connections to launch a presidential campaign, leading to him being elected President of the United States.

An international incident leads to him deploying an experimental defense technology his company had developed, which proves far stronger than intended, causing a nuclear chain reaction that destroys the majority of humanity. The patient and the psychiatrist are in fact in a government bunker deep beneath the ruins of the United States, and the patient's amnesia is a psychological response to finding the charred remains of his family in the ruins of the White House. The psychiatrist, having also lost her family in the disaster, and dying of cancer caused by radiation exposure, has clung to life only to force her patient to accept the truth. Having seen it happen, she commits suicide. The next day, her successor meets with the patient again, whose mind has once again rebooted to that same morning, decades ago.

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John Kessel

John (Joseph Vincent) Kessel (born September 24, 1950 in Buffalo, New York) is an American author of science fiction and fantasy. He is a prolific short story writer, and the author of four solo novels, Good News From Outer Space (1989), Corrupting Dr. Nice (1997), The Moon and the Other (2017), and Pride and Prometheus (2008), and one novel, Freedom Beach (1985) in collaboration with his friend James Patrick Kelly. Kessel is married to author Therese Anne Fowler.

Judy Davis

Judith Davis (born 23 April 1955) is an Australian actress known for her work in film, television, and theatre. With a career spanning over 40 years she is commended for her versatility and is regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation with frequent collaborator Woody Allen describing her as "one of the most exciting actresses in the world". She is the recipient of eight AACTA Awards, three Emmy Awards, two BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and has received two Academy Award nominations.

Davis is a 1977 graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, where she starred opposite Mel Gibson in Romeo and Juliet. Most of Davis's stage work has been in Australia, including Piaf (1980), Hedda Gabler (1986), Victory (2004) and The Seagull (2011), but she also starred in the 1982 London production of Insignificance, for which she was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress, and the 1989 Los Angeles production of Hapgood. She returned to the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 2017 to direct the play Love and Money.

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For her television work, Davis won Primetime Emmy Awards for Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995), for playing Judy Garland in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001) and The Starter Wife (2007) and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows and One Against the Wind (1991). Other television roles include Water Under the Bridge (1980), A Woman Called Golda (1982), A Cooler Climate (1999), Nancy Reagan in The Reagans (2003), Coast to Coast (2003), Sante Kimes in A Little Thing Called Murder (2006), Page Eight (2011), Hedda Hopper in Feud: Bette and Joan (2017) and Mystery Road (2018)

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