“Dialed Up” by Tim Maughan
Reviewed by Dave Truesdale
In a future not too distant from now, the author posits that to get ahead in the business world one must be high on all manner of drugs; uppers and downers, mood enhancers and mood levelers, and hallucinogenics, all instantly delivered on personal demand through imbedded implants. The story takes us quickly through a partial day of one such company employee, a mother with a young daughter, and a few of the incidents and possible negative psychological effects it has—with her job the number one priority and not the relationship with her daughter.
Unfortunately, this situation of a parent’s job coming before family is nothing new—with or without drugs, so I don’t see the drug use as adding anything new to this scenario. This also reads more like a vignette, a slice or segment of many stories of the same general type a certain arm of SF was fond of in the 1970s, differing only in its details. An updated rehash of material 45+ years old (let’s see what it’s like to do everything on drugs), spiffed up in new clothes but with nothing terribly profound or new to impart underneath it all.
Dave Truesdale has edited Tangent and now Tangent Online since 1993. It has been nominated for the Hugo Award five times, and the World Fantasy Award once. A former editor of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, he also served as a World Fantasy Award judge in 1998, and for several years wrote an original online column for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Now retired, he keeps close company with his SF/F library, the coffeepot, and old movie channels on TV. He lives in Kansas City, MO.