“Flesh for Trade” by Nicholas Budgen
Reviewed by Nicky Magas
Nicholas Budgen brings our worst fears about robots to life in “Flesh for Trade.” In this futuristic world, androids are taking the jobs of humans, one industry at a time. Humans are finding it increasingly difficult to find work and unemployment and poverty are on the rise. The latest market to fall to the robotic workforce is the sex trade industry. Humans are getting desperate for an income, but with robots looking and functioning more like people every day, the blurred line between what is real and what is not has the potential to bring opportunity as well as ruin.
“Flesh for Trade” has a chilling concept and visceral prose which combine to give it a very real feeling of a possible future for humanity. The word count however doesn’t allow it to be as surprising as it perhaps wishes to be. This makes the reveal at the end predictable almost from the beginning, and ruins the tension in the story. The ending likewise feels flat and anti-climactic as it says nothing that the reader doesn’t already know, which is unfortunate because “Flesh for Trade” starts out strong.