Tor.com, August 2019
“More Real Than Him” by Silvia Park
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Readers have a choice among science fiction, fantasy, and superhero fiction this month, as well as an opportunity to travel the world in their imaginations.
“More Real Than Him” by Silvia Park takes place in Korea in a high-tech future. The two main characters both work in the field of robotics. Acting separately, through a set of unusual circumstances they create a robot in the form of a popular media star. The story deals with the changing relationship between the two women, who are both friends and rivals, as well as their feelings about the machine they build and program.
The author creates fully developed characters and a rich, detailed future. The plot is episodic, leaving the impression that this is more a slice-of-life than a complete story.
We journey to Scotland in “Seonag and the Seawolves” by M. Evan MacGriogair. A woman hides and remains in her native land when her parents move to Canada to escape poverty. The narrator’s father advises her to dive into the ocean to find her true home. Miraculously, she survives miles of swimming through icy waters to an island inhabited by wolves. The narrator follows her in a boat, where he witnesses extraordinary transformations.
This is a beautifully written, poetic myth. Although the story contains many lines of untranslated Gaelic, it never becomes confusing, thanks to the author’s narrative skill. The background seems both magical and completely convincing.
“The City That Never Sleeps” by Walton Simons is part of the popular Wild Cards series. The setting is a parallel version of New York City in 1986, inhabited by superpowered Aces and mutant Jokers. The main character is an Ace, a professional assassin who can kill with his gaze. Hired to murder a Mafia chieftain, he barely gets away with his life, with the unsuspecting help of a gigantic Joker. The pair become unlikely friends, and the Ace is able to return the favor when rival Jokers hunt down his new acquaintance.
Written in the style of hardboiled crime fiction, this is a violent story with a protagonist who is ready to kill anyone, either for a price or just because the victim annoys him. The character’s extreme cynicism and coldblooded disregard for life make it difficult for the reader to care about his troubles.
Victoria Silverwolf has never been to Korea, Scotland, or New York City.