The Cyborg Chronicles by Samuel Peralta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The problem with rating an anthology, of course, is that every single story is written by a different person and it's incredibly difficult to give a general rating to such a diverse collection.
Anyway, I'll try.
Foreword - Samuel Peralta: I thought this would be a foreword, but no, it reads like a short story!
The Regular - Ken Liu: I've only read one story by Ken Liu before (The Paper Menagerie) and thought that a brilliant piece of work. The Regular is just as brilliant. Okay, I started off thinking "what, why is this about a murdered prostitute?" and then he goes and brings you into this Asian American world, with damaging parental expectations (but you know only because they love you so much and want you to succeed) and a half-Chinese (half-white) cyborg who's really only taking up this futile murder investigation because she needs the money, but really, it's much more complex than that. (5 stars!)
Upgrade Complete - Paul K Swardstrom: JR-8 MT is a human cyborg, a combatant in a tournament of cyborgs, who has been having strange dreams. Tiny parallels to some of Susan Kaye Quinn's Singularity, but then again totally different. Loved the way it turned out. (4 stars)
Drop Dead, Droid - Artie Cabrera: This one was a little too Cowboy for me. It's like a Western in space, with Rangers looking for leads on a drug heist. Then he gets suckered into helping a poor, helpless (but extremely beautiful) lady who later gets murdered. Throw in a cyborg kid for the space theme and there you have it! A Western in Space! (Actually it ties together better than that; I'm just don't like Westerns that much) (3 stars)
Hide and Seek - Eric Tozzi: I kind of liked this. It had an interesting concept and scattered OMG moments, but in some places, the writing was just... confusing. By confusing, I mean that I had to read some paragraphs a few times to figure out what was happening. It also felt choppier than it needed to be. (3 stars)
Avendui 5ive - P K Tyler: In Mezna City, unwanted kids are being implanted and coded for specific roles in maintaining the world they live in. But not all of these Teks turn out to be unfeeling robots. At least two of them, Avendui 5ive and Virgil 9ine have discovered what it means to be friends, and to love. Now, they need to keep it quiet before they are found out and wiped. Pavarti is a big(gish) name in the corner of the (online) writing world I live in, but I've never really read her stuff, probably because I was mainly only aware of her lit & romance stuff. After reading Avendui 5ive, I really want to check out her sci-fi stuff now. (5 stars)
Indigo - Moira Katson: Cyborgs are wiped after every mission, but for some reason, this one still retains partial memories across missions. Random associations are forming; a sense of incompleteness invades her. Is she broken beyond repair in the middle of this mission? Indigo grows on you, leaving you with the chills. (5 stars)
Augment - Susan Kaye Quinn: I've reviewed Augment, so this wasn't a new story for me. Miriam Levine is a jiv - a human with augments - and she's fighting to win the Resurrection mod - a brand new augmentation that may very well be the only thing that will keep her alive. Because she's about to throw her life away. You know what, after watching Star Wars VII, I'm thinking Miriam has a bit of a Rey vibe. (4 stars)
His Name in Lights - Patty Jansen: There's a slight tinge of The Martian in this one. Daniel and Oscar are on Io overseeing an installation when a sudden quake strikes. The base is almost all destroyed, communications are cut off and they're left for dead, seeing they're not entirely human anyway. Except that Eilin, President of Allion Aerospace doesn't want to leave them behind. Very space opera, the relationship is a little bit predictable, but warm fuzzy feelings anyway. (4 stars)
Dyad - David Bruns: Dr Michael Taylor is an expert on cyborgs, which is why the Tech Div needs his help. Or maybe not. I agree with Bruns that Dyad is all about its ending. Which is why I'm not going to say anything else about the story. (5 stars)
Preservation - Michael Patrick Hicks: There's some surface level similarities between Preservation and Hide and Seek: both talk about poachers and animals in Africa. But whilst Hide and Seek focuses on the killer LEON, Preservation has a single-minded vet cyborg who will do whatever it takes to save endangered rhinos. It was a nice story but I don't think I connected that much with it (3 stars)
Charm Bracelet - A K Meek: Elijah wakes up to find that he has been turned into a cyborg. And each time he tries to kill himself, he finds that he's resuscitated and made even more mechanical. It's a losing game. One thing slightly repetitive about cyborg stories is the fact that they almost always end up being used to fight each other on another's behalf. In this one, it's the war between Mexico and America over trade embargoes. The most fascinating thing about this story is how delicately it weaves everything together from its innocent beginning to its tragic end. I flipped through this again while writing the review and realized that I missed some connections from my first read. (5 stars)
Ghosts in the Mist - Annie Bellet: Yet another poacher and preservation story. This obviously didn't really resonate with me much, because I had to flip through to the middle to remember what it was about. Then again, I remembered liking the ending once I realized which story it was. (3 stars)
So it's a mixed bag of stuff, but mostly good stuff.
I received an ARC for review from Susan Kaye Quinn by being incredibly quick to reply on Facebook. (heh).
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