Redstone Science Fiction #16, September 2011

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Redstone SF #16, September 2011

“The Jenny” by Cheryl Rydbom
“The Day the Pod Landed” by Jeff Cross

Reviewed by Jo-Anne Odell

In “The Jenny” by Cheryl Rydbom, every person carries an AI, and all social interaction is governed.  Jessica is our hero’s name, but Jenny is the persona she wears for her job as a waitress, where each action is choreographed, and every word is scripted.  Jessica is a fledging artist, trying to survive, and to find ways to express her individuality. 

Some tales are deeper than they first appear; this one is shallower.  Slow-moving, but nicely-written, it’s a bit of fluff in a dystopian setting.  The technology and rules don’t ring true; they’re too obviously tailored to fit the literary needs of the story. 

Sofia longs to leave the coffee plantation in “The Day the Pod Landed” by Jeff Cross.  She spends her days dreaming of advertising and graphic design.  When a pod drops and the elite troops file out, her fantasy comes true.  The invaders set up factories to churn out houses and stores.  Sofia applies for a position with the firm, and lands her dream job.  Her first task is to prepare for an invasion from the competition.

It’s an absurdist take on corporate rapaciousness, and very well done.  I’m not a big fan of absurdist style, but this tale’s quick pace, clear thread, and solid message won me over.