Sunday, April 3, 2016

Discards, by David D. Levine

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(Fantasy SF; Wild Cards) Tiago, a fifteen-year-old orphan boy scraping by on his own in Rio de Janeiro, contracts the "Wild Card" virus and ends up horribly disfigured. But the virus has given him a gift too. (10,559 words; Time: 35m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Award-Worthy

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Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

At the highest level, this story is about Tiago's struggle to find a place for himself in society. Secondarily, it's about his struggle to understand his power and how to use it.

Independent of the main story arc, Discards introduces us to life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. It shows us plenty of evil (or at least abusive) people but also touches of unexpected generosity--such as Vitor who gives him the money for the bus to Bairro dos Curingas. As a result, we're sad but not surprised when he starts using his gift to steal, but we're also not surprised when he doesn't want to actually hurt anyone. The fight with the drug dealers doesn't give him a taste for murder but rather a horror of it.

For all of his problems, Tiago's heart seems to be in the right place. In the big fight, although he pounds the bandidos and dumps their bodies into a dumpster, he's far gentler with the police, and his big concern is the well-being of the people.

When he gets offered a role in Heróis Brazil, we feel that he's earned it. Not only has he found material success, but he's also found a respected place in society, and with the the story is complete.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Tiago "The Recycler" Goncalves shows up in the latest Wild Cards novel "High Stakes" as a new member of The Committee. He's a minor character who comes across as an insecure kid with a big chip on his shoulder, quite different from the character I grew to like in this story. Maybe his stint on Herois Brazil changed him, or more likely the writing by a different writer. :-)

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  2. I definitely liked the theme of discarded things getting recycled, including people. And I need to read more Wild Cards.

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