Speculative fiction has come a long way since the long nights spent at the Chatsubo. The torrents of neon reflected rain drops, once painting the megaplex streets like technicolor oil paint, have ceased. Noir is nostalgia. Adapting to the times, the punk of tomorrow has become a dark reflection of our present. Cyber World: Tales of Humanity’s Tomorrow embraces this and emphasizes the need for the genre to be malleable, technically, socially, and environmentally in-tune with the modern world.
In the spirit of old school sci-fi, Joshua Viola and Jason Heller present us with the latest views from the edge. The anthology features 20 diverse stories from the genre’s leading writings. It satisfies our desire for the hacker runs of yesterday and the singularity-centric glimpses of the near future. There are stories include VR rigs, feedback loops, AI sentience, robotics, the future of medicine, and more. Cyber World is dark, gritty, and rooted in real-world concerns.
List of Fiction
|Serenade by Isabel Yap||The Mighty Phin by Nisi Shawl||Reactions by Mario Acevedo||The Bees of Kiribati by Warren Hammond||The Rest Between Two Notes by Cat Rambo|
|The Singularity Is in Your Hair by Matthew Kressel||Panic City by Madeline Ashby||The Faithful Soldier by Saladin Ahmed||Your Bones Will Not Be Uknown by Alyssa Wong||Staunch by Paul Graham Raven|
|Other People’s Thoughts by Chinelo Onwaulu||wysiomg by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro||We Will Take Care of Our Own by Angie Hodapp||A Song Transmuted by Sarah Pinsker||It’s Only Words by Keith Ferrell|
|Small Offerings by Paolo Bacigalupi||Darkout by E. Lily Yu||Visible Damage by Stephen Graham Jones||The Ibex on the Day of Extinction by Minister Faust||How Nothing Happens by Darin Bradley|
– The Singularity is in Your Hair, Matthew Kressel
Select Stories & Summaries
Visible Damage (Stephen Graham Jones) – In the far future, where life is seamlessly integrated with technology, a hacker-artist named Raz is commissioned to capture an ASCII-graph image of an artificial intelligence. Some simple B & E, a little art, what could possibly go wrong? A cyberpunk story set in a post-singularity world, Visible Damage is well written and frightening. It explores the nature of humanity and hubris Black Mirror-style.
The Singularity Is in Your Hair (Matthew Kressel) – A severely crippled 16-year-old freelance coder teams up with an AI in the virtual world to create premium synesthetic experiences. Kressel uses real technology such as hackable exploits and public key cryptography to craft a VR world with real brand names and is highly relatable. A powerful story that deals with technology’s deeper value and our rush to have it.
The Ibex on the Day of Extinction (Minister Faust) – A Kenyan-Canadian eco-tech developer is working to create a sustainable ecology in a war-ravaged Niger when something terrifying happens. Like many stories in the anthology, it features an interesting multicultural setting. It also explores the relationship between mankind and progress.
Darkout (E. Lily Yu) – This story explores the role of social media and an all-pervasive surveillance system sweeping across a near-futuristic world. Held hostage by hackers, the governments of the world decree that everyone can watch everything 24/7. What does it mean for privacy issues and society as a whole? Check out one man’s perspective in this creepy short.
Serenade (Isabel Yap) – A post-cyberpunk tale of two hackers hired to extract data from an encrypted USB stick. The information they find may be more than the client asked for. There’s plenty of multicultural aspects that are reminiscent of old school cyberpunk. The story is about accepting the real world in a digital age.
The Rest Between Two Notes (Cat Rambo) – In a near-apocalyptic New York, a girl exercises her inner demons in the safety of VR. But safety is overrated and, put bluntly, sometimes hitting things in the head is justifiable. Dark and powerful writing. Every kid in America should read this for a cathartic release.
Small Offerings (Paolo Bacigalupi) – In a futuristic world ridden with disease and despair, birthing becomes nearly impossible. Small Offerings tells the story of one researcher’s strong desire to overcome this obstacle while dealing with the chaotic world around her. The controversial subject matter makes this unique and original.
We Will Take Care of Our Own (Angie Hodapp) – It’s election year and the Senator Tia Isandro is ready to discuss new robot-care legislation. Unfortunately, she’s in Elevated Reasoning International’s pocket. When society creates the most important innovation since the toaster oven, the moral obligation to maintain the defective creations is called into question.
Other great stories include the innovative A Song Transmuted by Sarah Pinsker, the action packed Your Bones Will Not Be Unknown by Alyssa Wong, and Paul Graham Raven’s tale of running in the shadows, Staunch. The cutting edge and diverse nature its stories help Cyber World do for modern sci-fi what Mirrorshades by Bruce Sterling did three decades ago.
In short, I haven’t had this much fun since the last time I was cruising down the spindle with a good rasta dub playing in the background. Or maybe it was that time I ate falafel in the Budayeen? (Ugh, that was a long night.) Anyway, be sure to pick it up or check the bundles for a dedicated soundtrack, t-shirt, and poster. 5/5
(This book was received from Hex Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)
Trailer for Cyber World incl. merch (and that amazing art & music. :O )