Sunday, July 17, 2016

And You Will Know Her by the Trail of Dead, by Brooke Bolander

April 2015

Rhye is an AI, and like all AIs, a second-class citizen. It's not at all clear to me how these things work in this world, but she reports wandering the streets until age twelve, when she was snatched up to become a soldier. She was a soldier until she turned 25, and she was very, very good at killing. After her service, she earns a minimal living fighting in deathmatches.

Have I mentioned lately that I Don't Do Grimdark? No, probably haven't had occasion to because, in fact, I don't do grimdark. But this is Hugo season so, like Our Hero, I soldier on.

Eventually, Rhye meets Rack, also an AI. He picks her up and tends her wounds when she's inconveniently badly injured in a deathmatch. Rack is a programming genius, and a mercenary for organized crime. Rhye becomes his partner when he needs a hired gun, and in other ways.

On their latest job, they need to rescue a mob boss's little thug of a constructed AI heir from where he is trapped in cyberspace--cyberspace with security built by Rack. He goes in, and when everything goes horribly wrong, Rhye goes in after him.

It doesn't get any more cheerful from there, a highlight being what exactly Rack used for the basis of the security system programming. Let us say, I did not find the title to be false advertising.

I did not like this at all, but I don't like this kind of story at all, and I wasn't wincing at poor writing, so take that dislike with appropriate seasoning of salt.

Personally, I can't recommend it.

I received this story as part of the 2016 Hugo Awards nominees packet.