"An Evening Severyn Grimes" by Rich Larson
This story came out of the July/August 2017 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. The story was written by Rich Larson.
This was an interesting story. It had everything you could want in futuristic adventure stories. Hackers abound in this story along with political activists and activism. It had daring kidnapping, and sound wave hacking, along with a mother's love and a deal with the devil. Somehow Rich Larson fit it all into this short read.
A man, Pierce, wearing a Fawkes mask, and a woman, Girasol, are in a dank room with a single chair. They talked as Girasol sat down in the silicone chair and opened her neural port at the top of her spine. Pierce took out a vial of liquid called Hypnotic and shot it into Girasol vein. Slowly, Girasol lowered her neural port to the plug beneath the chair. After connecting the neural port and being in a deep sleep from the Hypnotic she merged onto the data stream of the world. Riding the sound waves of the world and manipulating the data that commands everything in reality.
Severyn Grimes was the second wealthiest man alive. He was also living forever through volunteer bodies. Volunteer bodies are people who allow other people to upload their data core and take over their body, but with their old thoughts and memories.
Grimes was watching cage matches between puppets. Soon he grew bored of watching the men pummel each other into a bloody pulp and decided to call it a night. Grimes and his bodyguard, Finch, walked out of the fight and took his limo out on the town.
As they were riding along, the limo malfunctioned. Finch, accessing the system analysis through the optical dashboard visible with his eyes, announced it was just something with the exhaust . Pulling over, Finch jumped out to take care of whatever was wrong with the limo. Then shit became real very fast.
Finch was ambushed and taken by a group of men wearing Fawkes masks. A voice came over the limo speakers and started talking to Grimes. The voice was telling him that he was going to die. That what he did was wrong. Taking and using puppets to live forever was wrong and he abused the people he used for that purpose. The voice made the threat that after that night he wouldn’t be using another person for a puppet.
Soon Grimes was going to die, unless he could find a way out of this mess. He also wondered who the voice was talking to him. Was the voice someone he could manipulate? Was the voice really planning on killing him, or was there an ulterior motive. Soon Grimes was going to find out the answer to all the questions he had. The question then became was it something he was going to like.
I really dug this story. It was action packed and never had a dull moment. This story had me hooked from the first pages. Already I was asking the question what is going on here, and what are they planning on doing. I couldn't wait to find out.
The story was futuristic and portrayed an interesting backdrop on how life could be after the singularity. What would the future be like if people could live forever? Would only the rich have access to this type of life, or would everyone have the ability if they so desired? In this story the rich had the ability because they had the money to pay people off for their bodies.
Tension was from the get go. The tension built and built, never letting you go. The story was intense, but in a good way. You just always had the feeling like the other shoe was going to drop any time, but you just weren't sure when, or what it would be.
This is yet another story of why Rich Larson is fast becoming a well-known name in the SF community. I have yet to read a story of his that I didn't love. I can't wait to read another story he wrote.
Overall, look for this story. I highly recommend it if cyber-punk is your thing. If cyber-punk is not your thing, I still recommend this story. The story is more SF thriller than punk. It's not hardcore cyber-punk, but it has that feel to it. I don't think you will be disappointed in this story either way.