Lightspeed #85, June 2017

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Lightspeed #85, June 2017

Marcel Proust, Incorporated” by Scott Dalrymple

World of the Three” by Shweta Narayan
Love Engine Optimization” by Matthew Kressel
Crossing the Threshold” by Pat Murphy

Reviewed by Adrian McCauley

Marcel Proust, Incorporated” is a short thriller about corporate greed, terrorism and bio-engineering. When a product that greatly enhances memory and information retention is developed it is hailed as one of the great achievements of mankind and is quickly spread around the world. However, it has one side-effect—if the user stops taking the compound they lose all information they learned while on it, and this is exploited by the corporation and banks to ‘repossesses education’ when students fall behind on their loans. Scott Dalrymple has written a fast-paced story that presents many intriguing questions about society and technology that would be at home in an anthology with social SF authors such as Clarke or Asimov.

World of the Three” by Shweta Narayan is a meandering set of tales set in a Vedic clockpunk universe filled with clock-work automatons and Hindu-inspired Gods. Told as a series of anecdotes, they can be confusing as it isn’t clear who the main characters are supposed to be or what the importance of the links between the stories are. Poetically written, perhaps it is an objective art piece open to interpretation by the reader.

Love Engine Optimization” by Matthew Kressel is a modern cyberpunk story of a hacker who uses the ubiquitous nature of technology to digitally stalk women, analyzing their data to figure out how to seduce them. In a world already currently full of online dangers, this story highlights just one more way future-tech could enable scammers to exploit people.

Crossing the Threshold” by Pat Murphy is a story about a woman trying to sort out her life after the death of her father and who helps an old man who may actually be the Devil. It is a pleasantly short piece about entropy and chaos; it is left to the reader to make sense of the story, while avoiding being arrogantly vague. The only thing that annoyed me was the pair of cartoonish police officers. But maybe that was the point.