“Victimless Crimes” by Charlie Jane Anders
“A Matter of Shapespace” by Brian Trent
Reviewed by Cyd Athens
Charlie Jane Anders’s “Victimless Crimes” might be a forgettable story about a woman, Teri Lewis, who turns into a stereotypical, crawl-into-the-bottle, depressed drunk when her baby, Flo turns out to be the reincarnation of a superhero and leaves to reclaim her destiny. On the other hand, it could be a story about a mother, Teri Lewis, who is so protective of her baby, Flo, that Teri is devastated when Flo leaves after her crime-fighting buddies arrive to remind Flo of her past and destiny. Either way, it is about Teri’s reaction to Flo’s departure. Reading it, one might expect Teri to put the barrel of a six-shooter in her mouth and pull the trigger. That may not have been a bad thing.
In “A Matter of Shapespace,” Brian Trent shows just how tricky a hostile takeover can be. Jacob, the POV character, is an equity baron in a world where three megacorps/empires, Sun, Ragnar, and Oakbrand, rule supreme. This is a place where “mind over matter” can be taken literally. Even bodies are simply arranged matter born of three parents—a father, a mother, and an exogenesis pod in which the embryos are incubated. When Jacob learns from his friend, Jocelyn, that Sun and Ragnar secretly plan to merge and take over Oakbrand, creating a single world run by the one merged entity, he is skeptical. Then, in a disembodied state, he gets to witness the event.
Cyd Athens indulges a speculative fiction addiction from 45ø 29 30.65 N, 122ø 35 30.91 W.