Saturday, November 26, 2016

Serenade, by Isabel Yap

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(Cyber SF) Anj and EJ's fledgling hacking business gets a contract to decrypt an old AI-encrypted USB drive. (2,967 words; Time: 09m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Good plot, interesting tech, moving story

"Serenade," by (edited by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: There are two parallel plots here. The first is the effort to decrypt Mrs. Encina's USB drive, and the second is Anj and EJ's struggle to let Tata Selo go. They're linked because without the money from the contract, they can't afford the operation.

It's very touching when we realize that Mrs. Encina really didn't want anything from that USB except one final message from her late husband. Given her urgency, we had every reason to expect something sinister, so this heightens the impact. And Anj and EJ finally accept that it's up to Tata Selo, not them, whether he stays.

A few hints tell us that this is taking place in Manila. The currency is the peso, the LRT is Manila's Light Rail Transit system, and "Tata" means "father" and "ale" means "aunt" in Tagalog.

Con: The descriptions of cyberspace are faithful to the old cyberpunk ideas, but it's very difficult to imagine why any real software would work that way. Chipping away at a stone with an ice pick?

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