Dhaka, the capital of Gano Projatontri Bangladesh. With a population of thirteen million the city was a madhouse. Buses and plastic Tata Kei Cars spewed thick smoke from their struggling two cylinder aluminum engines. The heat and pollution were stifling and the cacphony of car horns relentless. This place was more than enough to drive you mad. It was dirty. It was overcrowded. It was dangerous.
I loved it
We’re in cyber noir territory, and this kind of thing just hooks me in. As I work my way through the January-February Interzone, I’m reminded of why this is one of my favorite SF magazines — I’m just an old cyberpunk at heart. Having spent a good part of my working life with high-tech companies, the amoral shenanigans of near future corporations in the relentless pursuit of profit where human casualty is not a bottom line consideration is fascinatingly all too familiar. To bad it’s not outright fantasy rather than speculative fiction that hits close to the bone.
Case in point is Michael R. Fletcher’s “Intellectual Property” set in a third world country in which it is easier for a multinational to exploit human resources because, as Richard Blaine once put it, “Life is cheap.” There are two alternating first person narrators. The first is a “deep cover agent for a Corporate Espionage Black Ops unit” whose world weary cynicism provides the opening lines above. The second, Anomie, is a young woman bioengineered with a neural socket that allows a complete takeover of her consciousness by her research employer; a significant drawback is that once unplugged, she has no recollection of what her employers are using her for.
While you should be able to figure out the connection between these two characters before the story’s end, it is nice to have the good guys — or, at least, maybe not the good guys but the victims of the bad guys — win out. Which is why it is fiction.