And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead by Brooke Bolander
Published in: Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 57, February 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
The job has gone completely wrong. Tasked with breaking a prominent mobster’s son out of the computer system he had no business being in, they knew the job would be risky. But Rhye wasn’t prepared for them to shoot Rack before they were even close to being finished. Her only option now is to hook up to the interface and get the kid out herself. And maybe try to save Rack in the process. He’s in there somewhere, after all.
The summary above is brief, but with this being a novelette, I don’t want to give away everything. In a future where people can connect directly into computer systems, leaving their bodies to explore new worlds, there are new frontiers on all accounts. And although Rhye is a loner, she’s found somewhat of a kindred spirit in Rack. The last think she wants is to face the thought of not seeing him again.
The writing here is masterful. Through Rhye going in and trying to finish the job, readers learn so much about these characters. We get just enough hint of backstory to find out why they’re a team. But the way events unfold, we learn so much about what makes both individuals tick. The story is driven just as much by the characters as it is the action. And that’s something I really loved about it.
I hadn’t pulled this one up until it was named a Hugo finalist. And I’m so glad that it’s on that list. It’s not only a great example of great science fiction writing, but it demonstrates masterful use of the novelette length and format.
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