Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Totaled, by Kary English


Another 2015 Hugo nominee from the Sad Puppies slate. Quite competently written, and there are some interesting ideas. Maggie Hauri, a research scientist in brain/computer interface, is killed in a car accident. Due to the research rider on her insurance policy, her still-aware brain becomes a research subject in what was her own lab.

This ought to be an affecting story, as Maggie first struggles to communicate with her former research partner, then gradually deteriorates as her brain runs up against the limits of the technology keeping it functioning. Unfortunately, it simply does not work for me. The project head is a cardboard cutout. Taking a brain on life support to a school recital or graduation is just bizarre. The "totaled" concept for human beings, the idea that beyond a certain cost level an injured or ill person doesn't get treatment even if it would fix them, is meant to be the shocking idea here, but it plays little real role in the story. Leaving it out would have changed the story very little.

A Hugo nominee should be something more than competent. Not recommended.

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