Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, April 2017
“Defender of the People” by Bojan Ratković
Reviewed by Benjamin Wheeler
“Defender of the People” by Bojan Ratković starts with a man waking up with no memories and ends with a shell game reminiscent of a good ol’ Kansas City Shuffle and the Manchurian Candidate mixed together. The police are after the hacker Nemesis who wishes to halt the process of mankind turning to cyborgs. The man with no memories, Walter Webb, is the only connection to Nemesis for detectives Rivers and Marcel. The complexity of the ending must be read to be believed, and takes away a little bit from the story for the short medium. It starts with Walter Webb lacking his memories due to a data dump, and the mix up at the end could have been much better served in a film or any longer medium than the few thousand words of this short story. The lack of meaty environment, facial features or most other details streamlines the story but makes it lack the oppressive feel cyberpunk stories like this thrive on.
Next up is “Weatherbuns” by Diana Hauer. A punk comes in to the Weather Bakery to order a hurricane cake, a thunderstorm pie and some sprinkles of ball lightning for his personal virtual reality environment. Despite warnings to the contrary, he sets them off all at once within the store, causing all kinds of chaos for weather apprentice Sandra with which she must deal. This story is as fresh as the loaves of sunshine that Fawkes bakes for his apprentice Sandra to sell. The idea that physical objects could be completely separate from the effects they produce for virtual reality is a fascinating future technology that would certainly be more interesting than the dim and grey cyberpunk future. A worthwhile read and certainly a story I recommend.