Friday, April 5, 2019

The Flowering, by Soyeon Jeong

★★★☆☆ Average

(Cyberpunk Dystopia) A future Korea requires government proof of identity before you can access the Internet, and the narrator tells about her sister, who was a subversive trying to enable an uncensored, anonymous system. (5,336 words; Time: 17m)

"," by (translated by Jihyun Park and Gord Sellar, edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 151, published on .

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

Review: 2019.193 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is an excellent translation!

The story appears to be either an interview or an interrogation of the nameless narrator, interspersed with paragraphs of commentary from other people who were involved with the underground movement. A pleasure of the story is the way it gradually becomes clear what really happened here.

The challenge of what to do about anonymity on the Internet is a very real problem. On the one hand, it has created an enormous, vibrant marketplace of ideas. On the other hand, it has enabled the ugliest kind of slander and propaganda. In the world described in the story, Korea has opted for a terribly repressive solution, hurting not only people who try to be anonymous but even innocent members of their families.

Con: The idea that you could materially affect a surveillance society like this by growing a few “routers” is silly. “The Flowering” described in the story is magic, not science.

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Soyeon Jeong Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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