I’m a fan of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the things they work toward. I thought an anthology of reprints edited by them could be interesting. (Get it here.) Mostly, that was right.
The stories in the anthology deal, as expected, with the interaction between humans and machines, and the freedom interests those can call into questions. As with most anthologies, some of the stories don’t quite fit the theme, but mostly, these stay in the lane, and some bring out some interesting concepts.The best stories of the lot were:
- “Be Seeing You” by Madeline Ashby – an enhanced bodyguard meets challenges. Not really novel, and with a weak ending, but strong on character and setting.
- “I’ve Got the Music in Me” by Charlie Jane Anders – Who owns that song stuck in your head? A clever and funny idea, though it doesn’t move much beyond that.
- “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi – How to do serious journalism in the age of sound bites. Not what I was expecting, and a nice, well-balanced story about principles.
- “The Smartest Mob” by David Brin – The ultimate in virtual flash mobs. An excerpt from a larger piece, and it shows, but well written and considered.
- “His Masters Voice” by Hannu Rajaniemi – Animal companions react when their human is locked up. A bit disorganized, but moving.
- “Hive Mind Man” by Rudy Rucker and Eileen Gunn – The dangers of getting too caught up in social media. A surprisingly nice ending.
There’s one bizarre anomaly in the collection – a novella written by the plaintiff in an EFF case that has nothing at all to do with the main theme. Unless you’re a fan of demon-porn (actual quote: “”It hurt his dick to look at her she was so hot.””), you can skip the final 70 pages. Demon-porn. And I only just learned that werewolf-porn was a thing. Two things I wish I didn’t know.
All in all, an interesting, but not exciting collection marred by the final story.