Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Ones Who Look, by Katharine Duckett


(SF Thriller) Zoe works for a company that uploads people’s minds to “Heaven,” and she dates a coworker from Engineering. She’s very loyal and very work-focused, but even see can see something’s not quite right. (10,827 words; Time: 36m)

"," by (edited by Carl Engle-Laird), published on by .

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

Review: 2020.370 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: For all that Zoe personally has a very nice life—or could have, if she wanted too—it’s clear from the start that the world in this story has something terrible wrong with it. The hints about how the Arlington office fell apart tell us as much. Something is wrong in Paradise, and the bulk of the story is about figuring out what that is.

I rather liked the idea that people don’t like to be told what to do, but they’re fine if they’ve got two different sources who sometimes contradict each other.

Con: What stops me from fully enjoying this story is that my disbelief in the value of any mind-uploading system is total; whatever you put into such a system, it would be a copy of the original person, but that person would still be dead. Perhaps the real problem is that, not only do I believe this, I think everyone else believes it too, and, hence, I think no one would spend any money on such a thing.

Of course I could imagine it having value for your living relatives, but in this story, your relatives don’t even get to talk to you, so that’s out as well. Either way, the thesis of the story is that living people would do all kinds of things to benefit their digital copies, and I simply can’t make myself believe that.

I didn’t like Zoe very much. She’s the “Ugly American” who can’t be bothered to learn the local language. She’s also quite a hypocrite, objecting to Boltzmann saying “Men have the vision, but it’s women who can always find the socks” when she herself says “You couldn’t pay men in tech to put up with other people’s shit the way Zoe did.”

One minor logical inconsistency is that implants amount to elective surgery, and in a world without antibiotics, there would be no elective surgery.

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Katharine Duckett Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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