Friday, September 22, 2017

ZeroS, by Peter Watts

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(Military SF) Technically dead after a terrorist attack, Asante gets a new body and second chance at life, provided he serves 5 years as an experimental supersoldier. (13,764 words; Time: 45m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Fascinating, Detailed, and Thrilling

"," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: The technology is the star of this story. That and the action. Asante’s goal is to survive the five-year period, which seems less and less likely as other members of the team drop one after another.

The mystery of what their actual job is gradually deepens from one mission to the next. By the time we finally learn the truth, we’re prepared for something awful. Surprisingly, the military comes across looking sensible, even if their situation may be hopeless. Nor are they as insensitive as Asante and his teammates thought; at the end they even fixed his tremors for him.

We never know if Asante lived to complete his 5-year hitch or not, and we don’t need to know. At the point where he goes to sleep, the story is complete.

Narration and dialogue are pitch-perfect. In particular, the story does a great job of introducing quite a lot of information about the soldiers, the technology, and the world they live in without ever resorting to infodumps. Well done!

Con: The characters are weak. Even Asante doesn’t really come to life for us.

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Peter Watts Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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