posted Friday 30 August 2013 @ 9:53 am PDT
Here are the monthly digests, one of them a double issue, and the month’s worth from Tor.com.
Asimov’s, October/November 2013
A double issue, with no novellas! There’s a strong theme of time in several of these stories. Also an installment in Rusch’s ongoing Fleet serial.
“The Time Travel Club” by Charlie Jane Anders
Lydia thought the club was a lot of fun until Madame Alberta showed up with her fake accent and an actual working time machine in her laundry room, which sort of ruined everything. When Lydia volunteers her sobriety coin for the first run, she’s upset when it doesn’t rematerialize on schedule.
Madame Alberta pulled a big lever. A whoosh of purple neon vapor into the glass cube, followed by a “klorrrrrp” sound like someone opening a soda can and burping at the same time—in exactly the way that might suggest they’d had enough soda already— and the coin was gone.
The problem turns out to be that the machine can’t correct for the Earth’s movement in space, so objects don’t return to their point of origin. In a moment of practicality, the club decides that this could be a feature, not a bug, but this, too, almost ruins everything.
A warm-hearted tale about people finding each other and themselves through sharing their fantasies, even when they turn out to be real. It doesn’t matter when you go in time, it’s who you go there with. Should appeal greatly to the fannish spirit.
“Grounded” by Meg Pontecorvo
The perils of adolescence. Maxine is in middle school, an age at which every girl’s parents are dedicated to ruining her life. Maxine’s mother takes this to a greater degree than usual, being an environmental extremist who’s convinced that all the recent strange phenomena are some sort of toxic contamination, and Maxine incurs the ridicule of the mean kids at school. Naturally, she’s determined to run around free in the petals falling from the sky.
We ditched the quarantine bus and walked home instead, swirling our hands to make the petals dance. Clare fell on her butt, and I scooped up handfuls and dumped them on her, and she shrieked and threw them back.
Naturally, she’s busted.
A sort of YA story, with its adolescent narrator, which results in a more egregious than usual “how is she telling this story” problem at the end.
“Quantum Orpheus, at the Light Cone’s Apex” by Igor Teper
Abe is in charge of the International Space Agency’s quantum computer, Isaac. A copy of Isaac will soon be launch on a deeper-space probe and, for some reason, this requires diagnostics of the original. At some point, Abe realizes that there’s a delay in the computer’s computational speed, and he can’t figure what might be siphoning off its power. Then Isaac sends him a message: END.
In our language for interfacing with Isaac, “end” signifies the end of a stream of input commands; it has no meaning as an output.
Not one we gave it, anyway.
When he continues to be stumped by the problem, Abe calls up his estranged daughter, an expert in expert systems, by which I infer she is a kind of philosopher. Progress ensues, although I think this is mostly Isaac’s doing, because of course the computer is generating self-awareness.
I’m quite surprised to see this one in the pages of Asimov’s and not its sister zine. It’s the sort of problem story in which a character has both scientific and personal problems, and the solution to one leads to solving the other. There is also an ethical problem that links the two, as Isaac’s sentience is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time, yet revealing it would result in the sort of bureaucratic interference that would profoundly harm it. There is also, though the author doesn’t deal with it, a parallel problem in the theory of Mind as Isaac invents then implements quantum teleportation. But what, exactly, is it that is teleporting? And what is left behind, other than a collection of cesium atoms? As a bonus link, the author throws in some meditations on time, with some nice imagery.
“No Others Are Genuine” by Gregory Frost
Eustace lives with his mother in a Chicago boarding house and has a crush on their neighbor Miss Comuzzi, who works in the music store where they sell the Edison phonographs. When Miss Comuzzi goes missing, the adults won’t tell him what happened, but he knows it was something very bad. Immediately after her disappearance, a new boarder takes her room, and Eustace knows there’s something wrong with Mr Schulde. So should readers, because his name is the German for “guilt”. Mr Schulde, too, has a phonograph machine. When Eustace breaks into his room to search it for signs of Miss Comuzzi’s remains, he makes an unsettling discovery in the phonograph cabinet.
And that was when he saw the other door. It had been assembled into the side of the cabinet so that it looked like nothing more than a split panel—except that near the top and bottom lay two tiny brass hinges. There were no knobs to pull like on the front, but when he pushed, the panel moved a little and clicked outward. He drew it open.
Well-done horror/mystery. Readers will share Eustace’s frustration with the adults who keep interfering with his attempts to protect his mother from the menace of Mr Schulde. I’m not quite sure, though, why he failed to confide in the policeman who clearly shares his suspicions. Things might have turned out differently.
“Deep Diving” by Joel Richards
Here’s the situation: the Terran hegemony over space has been challenged by local powers such as Coalsack, and the Terrans aren’t taking this well. On a Terran jumpship, the captain’s nominal command must be shared with the AI and the political officer, who have their own agendas. Among the passengers is the narrator, Nystrom, a diver, which is to say an enhanced mind reader. Also a number of Coalsack officials and operatives, of which one is apparently Marc Talley, who is about to die, as Nystrom discovers.
“If a person is about to die, imminently about to die, it leaves an imprint on the surface conscious mind, a mind that we cannot read. The surface mind is a churning froth that we plunge through to reach the centers of long-term memory. But an imminent death leaves its shadows on those waters, a backshadow. It shows up to us as a current life about to become a past life.”
Talley’s death immediately causes a diplomatic incident, as the Coalsack authorities suspect he has been murdered by Terran operatives, a conclusion with which Nystrom agrees but the ethics of his order prohibit him to confirm. Then a Coalsack operative activates a lethal truthseeking robot.
I have more than a few issues with this premise. An SF author, of course, always contrives the setting and circumstances of a story to generate an interesting plot. But there is contriving, and there is contrived, when the author’s setup of the plot deck becomes too obviously stacked. This is the case here. The Fury robot, designed to be the sole agent of law and order on frontier settlements, combines the functions of lie detector and executioner. It can apparently be activated on a whim, but not normally deactivated. That the security-conscious Terrans would allow such a machine to be transported in one of their ships, so readily accessed and activated, defies belief. Also that the ship’s standby strikeforce, intended to be enforcers of Terran hegemony, would have insufficient weaponry to confront such a robot, known to be onboard. But without any of this, no plot.
There is also the question of law, which is an unclearly-cut domain. Talley may have been murdered, which is a crime – according to whose law? If Terran agents did commit the deed, might it have been legal, by Terran law, and thus outside the robot’s jurisdiction? Certainly activating the robot onboard the Terran ship must have violated some Terran law in Terran jurisdiction. I find it very unlikely that the Terrans would not have had the Coalsack official arrested on the spot. Throughout, the Terran military acts a lot like wimps, hardly like hegemonists. We’re supposed to believe all this on the grounds that they don’t want to have the knowledge get out that they assassinate their passengers, but if so, they clearly haven’t thought through the implications of this policy and aren’t prepared to deal with the consequences.
So I read through the story with this constant background irritation going, making it hard to appreciate the good parts. There are good parts, mainly centered on Nystrom the diver, who as a mindreader is in many ways better at detecting truth than the robot, and at evading it, at asking and answering the right questions in the right way. I don’t recall seeing the author use this premise previously, but it seems to have a lot of potential as a story generator, a lot of which goes underutilized here.
“Memories of Earth” by Neal Asher
Alan Saul is the leader of a colony terraforming a new world, his resources drastically reduced by an alien attack that destroyed their ship, most of their supplies, and his own enhanced capacity.
His mind had been vast back when he had been able to individually program a thousand robots all at once or calculate the vectors of every piece of rubble in a solar system. He had been a demigod who had mastered both mind and matter, who at will could build anything, including human bodies and minds. Now he was an old dying man. How the mighty had fallen.
Then he dies and discovers that things are not as they seemed.
A lot in this very short piece flickers past the reader almost stroboscopically. A number of issues are briefly glimpsed, the main one being human motivation under harsh circumstances. What strikes me is the moment that a colonist regrets their terraforming of the pristine world, perhaps destroying something precious that will never come to pass, while Saul argues that without it, their own precious lives will be lost. And so they were, and so they always would have been. And for what?
“When the Rain Comin” by Ian McHugh
It seems that the Earth has dried up and humanity has evolved the capacity to pupate during the dry years, waiting for rain. They remember their past in stories and myth.
“Them peop’e, them didn’ want to stay still, them want to keep movin. An them peop’e learn the way up to the sky, an them become the stars. Them a’ways movin, still.”
Not myth but science fiction, and as science fiction, this makes me skeptical. If the seas have dried, the water cycle is broken, and there is nowhere for the rain to come from.
“Adventures in Cognitive Homogamy: A Love Story” by Paul Di Filippo
Kioga Mallory, once a naked toddler in an African hut, is now living high in the global meritocracy thanks to his adoption, and is now engaged to an ambitious woman. Life is good, although he guiltily admits to himself that it might be better with less time expended on wedding plans.
The dreaded guest list discussion had already occupied one-hundred-and-fifty-two-point-five hours of his life. He knew the stat precisely from totaling all the automatically tagged hours in his lifelog. Sometimes it seemed that this endless parsing of the relative affinity bonds of friends, relatives, and business associates would extend into infinity, finding an angel-winged Kioga still indecisively parceling out seats in the heavenly cloudbanks.
But upon meeting up with him at the latest conference, his bride is too busy to give him more attention than a perfunctory peck, leaving Kioga to party the night away with his good buddy Jimmy, an expedition that leads to industrial espionage as Kioga unexpectedly comes to terms with his origins.
I must say that I initially took a wrong turn with this one, following the signs that men and women are a different species and don’t really get along living with each other, aside from sex. The Bro factor was looking really strong here. But the story takes another path, and the division that matters turns out to be between the have and have-nots. A bit of cognitive whiplash there. I’d have liked this one better without the jangly jargony opening.
“A Very Small Dispensation” by Sheila Finch
Patty first encountered the stranger, a hired man, as her family journeyed by covered wagon to California. It was a hard trek, and her grandmother was the first to die on the way.
The man called Antonio had helped dig the grave; now he stood apart from the mourners. She had to pass him on the way back to the wagons. He touched the tip of his hat to her when she looked at him. Right then, she felt the feather flutter in her chest that Gran called a goose walking over her grave.
Now she is an old woman and he comes to her again, as she always knew he would, so she can ask the question she’s always wanted to ask: why, if she could be spared, if some could be spared, why not all?
We know, of course, as Patty did, who the stranger really was. And it soon becomes clear who Patty was, and why Death attended their journey. But who is Death? What is within his power and what is not? He seems here to be a sort of minor god of limited powers, and a capricious one. He’s often bored with his work and seeks novelty, amusement, as well as being drawn to notorious killing fields. The final scene is wrenching, as we know what the characters do not, yet we are not told whether the person is spared. This part is effectively done.
But when authors use characters out of history, it’s important that their accounts remain consistent with the known facts. Here, it is strongly suggested that Death takes Patty away on the night of the story, yet the historical record tells us she lived several years beyond that date. This disconnect detracts from the emotional impact by making readers wonder what was actually going on.
“Waiting for Medusa” by Jack Dann
Subtitled: Homage à Harlan . . . for reasons that readers should quickly discern.
In a post apocalyptic setting, Teviot is an advanced military dog with the power of regeneration. Natural death doesn’t so much bother him; it’s dog-eaters that really bother him. Being eaten blocks the process. So he’s more worried about the “rover pack of
dangle-armed, hump-backed, anthropophagous mutes” who are tracking him than the girl he can’t track because she seems to have no scent. Turns out, the mutes are really tracking the girl and she’s tracking him, to make him her dog.
This updating of Ellison’s “A Boy and his Dog” is pretty mean and nasty in its own right, with a distinctive narrative voice. Readers unfamiliar with the classic will find it a grim assault on their ick-tolerance, but they won’t get the full appreciation experience. Still, the one thing this version can’t do like the original could is to shock. In part because of Ellison, readers have become less shockable now, the world is less shockable place. It’s interesting, in fact, to compare the ways both stories reflect the worlds in which they were written in the worlds they create.
“The Wildfires of Antarctica” by Alan DeNiro
Art. The narrator is a connoisseur who considers himself above petty ethical concerns, so he commissioned Roxy: Shark * Flower using his wife’s DNA. Roxy resents this. Roxy is dangerous, even more than the shark in her. The narrator at last loans her to a museum because he can’t control her, but in the museum she begins to subvert the other pieces of art.
A lesson on the dangers of irresponsibility in the hands of great wealth and privilege. I’m reminded in some ways of Martin’s Sandkings.
“Within These Well-Scrubbed Walls” by Ian Creasey
David’s mysophobic mother has died, and he’s come back to her bleach-scented flat to clear out her few possessions. The visit triggers resentful memories, then the mature reflection he hadn’t been capable of when younger. The SFnal aspect is almost nominal but essential to its poignancy: the hologram projector that was young David’s substitute for a live, messy pet. He finds now that she had programmed his own image into the device, a bittersweet discovery. “So much more convenient, a hologram boy who never gets dirty, never gets ill, never gets to invite anyone over. . . .”
Analog, November 2013
A novella from Edward Lerner anchors this issue, with a couple of nice shorts as backup.
“The Matthews Conundrum” by Edward M Lerner
Joshua Matthews is the newly-appointed historian of the Interstellar Commerce Union when he disappears with no trace for a month, then returns from wherever, stumbling out of his cab and vomiting all over the pavement like a drunk coming off a four-week bender. Which his boss, firing him, assumes that he was. The only person who claims to believe him is a journalist, Corinne Elman, who figures that, assuming enemy action was involved in Matthews’ disappearance, what did the enemy have to gain from it, aside from discrediting the ICU and discouraging interest in its history? She focuses on the conundrum that Matthews had proposed before the incident: that Earth is in the center of a small group of eleven nearby intelligent alien worlds, but beyond this small sphere of community, there is apparently nothing. And someone has just gone to a lot of trouble to discredit Matthews and make sure no one would listen to him on the subject of “the incredible circumstance that puts the only known intelligences within easy radio reach of each other, at about the same technology levels.”
From this beginning a large-scale SFnal mystery develops, a conspiracy theory on one of the grandest scales imaginable. After a stumble at the start, the narrative builds up momentum to reach a satisfactory conclusion.
However. This piece is part of a long-running series, and it would have been better if it weren’t, or at least without so much backstory from it. Thus the stumble at the beginning, after we see our protagonist spewing his guts out in front of the whole world, when the story comes to a halt while the author patches in the infodump holding the backstory. Which brings us incidentally to the matter of chronology, as the dump reveals that alien contact was made in the year 2002, thus oddly making this science fiction story an alternate history. Why, readers might wonder, did the author not advance this initial event into the future a few years instead of introducing such a complication? The answer is, he did. In the first story of this series, the year 2002 was indeed in the future by a few years. But time has passed fictional events by. Now, it’s an awkward intrusion.
And the thing is, Matthews’ story stands quite well on its own without any of this baggage. Far from being necessary, it’s simply a stumbling point. The other significant character, Corinne, comes with backstory of her own from a prior tale. We are supposed to understand that her previous experience has disposed her to credit Matthews’ account, but the previous experience is both too complicated to summarize and not connected to the current situation in any obvious way. All it really does is point the reader away from the story at hand and back at the earlier one. Not only does the story not need this, it would have been better off without it.
Is this a major problem, relative to the scope of the story? Not really. Readers of the zine are likely to be happy with it. But it’s such an unnecessary problem.
“Make Hub, not War” by Christopher L Bennett
Another series, not one that I’ve admired so far, and nothing here to change my opinion. The Hub is “the mysterious cosmic anomaly that connected all points in the greater galaxy, was the only known method of faster-than-light travel . . .” Because transit is temporarily shut down after a futile invasion of the Hub by a belligerent species, readers are treated to pages of supposedly-charming banter among the series’ regular characters, in the course of which they inadvertently get tricked into assisting a smuggler, with consequences that none of them seem to care too much about. I certainly don’t, either.
“Redskins of the Badlands” by Paul Di Filippo
Notable that this author has stories in both digests for November. Here, it seems that selected individuals have highly-advanced artificial skins combining protection, computation and weaponry, depending on what apps are deployed. Ruy Lambeth, head warden of Dinosaur Provincial Part in the Alberta Badlands, is one such individual, although his skin is actually the property of UNESCO. But no advance is without its downside. A group skin-wearing of vandals is now infesting the park, able to survive indefinitely in the hostile terrain.
In addition to protection from the elements and a certain degree of medical care, they received nourishment from their skins, darkened to maximize photon capture and thus photosynthesis, but without falling into utter unfashionable blackness.
Thus Ruy has also been equipped with a synthetic organic sentient programmable drone named Proty, along with other technologically-advanced gear, described here at great length. Despite which Ruy is captured by the malefactors with ridiculous ease.
This is humor. So it’s OK that Ruy, who ought to be Our Hero, is really inept, that a significant part of the narrative concerns the superiority of skin-enhanced sex, and the way in which the leader of the vandals is demolished by his own petard. It’s not so much OK that none of this is really very funny.
“Bugs” by Ron Collins
John, dying of heart disease, gets a last-minute reprieve when he’s approved for experimental nanotherapy. ie, the bugs. He wakes up cured, yet with a strange sensation.
No different from a pacemaker, as the promo said. But they felt like spiders crawling around in there, their prickly legs wriggling and spinning webs in the dark corners of his body. They moved together, spawning, and growing, releasing their offspring to spawn
The nurse calls the phenomenon “phantom bugs”. But there’s more going on in there than even his doctor knows.
Well-done bio SF. The author does a deft job of showing John’s development as the nanos take hold.
“Deceleration” by Bud Sparhawk
For millennia, reports of the anomalous blue-shifted object have been discounted, ignored, and brushed aside, there always being something more important to deal with now, and any impact would not occur for millennia, for centuries. For decades, we have seen this same story.
“Distant” by Michael Monson
Short-short. For some reason, someone is sending solo astronauts up in rockets again. Noah, the current subject, is nervous, certain he’s going to die. We don’t know if he does. That’s it. A real non-story here.
“The Eagle Project” by Jack McDevitt
Another short-short. As the last probe reaches its target planet around Tau Ceti, with no one expecting any better results, Tony has been sent by the president to NASA to shut down the project. He feels bad for the people who have spent their lives on it.
“Gordon, we’ve sent out sixteen missions. Seventeen, counting this one. We’ve visited every star within a dozen light-years. There’s nothing. We not only haven’t seen any aliens, we haven’t even found a microbe.”
Not about tech or space or even aliens but people whose dream is dying, and the lengths they’ll go to in order to keep that from happening. Rather sad, really, though I’m not sure it’s intended that way.
“Copper Charley” by Joseph Weber
Jack is a sleazy executive of a coal mining company, scheming to enrich himself while stonewalling the mine’s victims on their claims for compensation.
The coal below is dug out, separated from the rest of the rock and burned to power the nation’s electric grid. It keeps the lights running in your house. It powers your smartphone. It charges the battery in your car, unless you’re one of those ten-gallon-hat longhorn-belt-buckle gasguzzlers who hate the planet.
Then he meets Charley, the plant that can extract copper out of the soil.
A tale of unexpected consequences and people who fail to Think Things Through, perhaps because their real interest is in their beach house in the Caymans. Cynical humor, highly leavened with truth.
Tor.com, August 2013
Including July 31. We have independent original fiction here this time as well as novel tie-ins, which unfortunately outnumber the former.
“All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead” by Dennis Danvers
Crazy Maggie is building her cabin alone up on the mountain, where the site is infested with “rattlers and meth heads”, the latter of which have broken into her trailer and stolen the shotgun she intended to use on the former. Then the snake handler shows up.
He walked over to the closest of the snoozing rattlers and scratched it on the back of the head like he’d done Lucille, waking it up. “Hey girl,” he cooed, and the big brutal-looking head swayed back and forth, and I thought, here it comes, another crazy dead man to bury, when the damn snake coiled up his arm, all the way up, till the two of them were eye to eye like lovers looking for a room.
Thing is, the locals insist there are no snake handlers up on the mountain.
Well-done fantasy. Happy ending without dripping sentiment. Not a lot of big surprises but deftly sprung, and nice dialogue and narrative voices.
“Cayos in the Stream” by Harry Turtledove
Turtledove does Hemingway again. Not the same way.
The aging writer in Cuba during the Battle of the Caribbean, when German submarines were littering the seafloor with Allied shipping. He wants to do something to the Germans, and he wants to escape the fights with his wife Martha.
So you do what you can do. The older you get, the more you start to wonder if that is not what life is all about. There are advantages to being a world-famous writer. Especially, there are advantages to being a world-famous writer who is not broke.
So he takes out his boat Pilar with a crew armed with Tommyguns and a secret weapon, hoping to spot a U-boat and toss the thing down its hatch.
The essential elements in this premise are taken directly from the record. Turtledove has pretty well saturated himself in Hemingway, and the dual threads of the marital and the maritime conflict are part of it. There really was a Hooligan Navy, and Hemingway did play a role in it. Indeed, the first half of the story deviates no further from fact than such mainstream fiction usually does. But Hemingway never did actually encounter a U-boat, so when we reach that part we know we’re entering the alternate version of the history.
This piece is also greatly informed by Hemingway’s fiction, particularly the works published posthumously as Islands in the Stream; “Cayo”, the author helpfully informs us, means “island” in Spanish. There is also much taken from The Old Man and the Sea, originally intended to be part of that larger work. The site’s blurb, calling the story “The Old Man and the U-boat”, is a pretty accurate call. We see a whole lot of that material thrown into this mix – too much, in fact, for optimum effect, suggesting the author couldn’t resist yet another allusion.
Nonetheless, this story isn’t a pastiche of Hemingway’s fiction but an alternate biography; it’s well-known that there were biographical elements in much of his fiction, and fantasized biographical elements in particular, his heroes being the man he would like to have been, the man he would like to be seen as. This is the territory we occupy here. Readers may [or may not] see an affinity between the prose style in Turtledove’s story and that made famous by Hemingway, but what stands out starkly is the 2nd-person narrative.
2nd-person is always problematic; readers have to ask, just who is talking and who is being addressed? Here, as is common, “you” reads essentially as “I”. The difference, I suspect, lies in the fantasy, in the wish-fulfillment. This seems to be one fictional Hemingway addressing another, the man he wished he were, relating the events he wished had taken place. It’s notable that he didn’t let himself fulfill any wish of marital reconciliation upon returning to his wife a hero, rather a wish of her walking out on him. Or so Turtledove is telling us. Hemingwayphiles may judge for themselves whether they think he’s got it right.
“Warm Up” by V E Schwab
Set in the world of the author’s superpower novel, this one reads less independently than it actually is, being almost entirely backstory. David was an ice climber swept away in an avalanche and, for some definitions of the term, killed. As he faded, all he could think was warm up. When revived, his wish has become reality; his touch sets things on fire. His wife takes this the wrong way and leaves, and it’s almost a year before he regains the confidence to walk out of his house. At which point, the story being almost over, we intersect the world of the novel, which gives the impression that David is just a throwaway plot device and all the angst that the author has slathered on his behalf is quite wasted.
“Work Sets You Free” by David Barnett
Another tie-in, a prequel to an alternate history set in 1890, when supernatural evils stalk the British Empire. Gideon Smith has set off to London to seek aid from the hero Captain Lucian Trigger, but he unwisely takes passage on a steam-omnibus run by an order of nuns who want no payment but the lives of their passengers. Of course, they don’t phrase it exactly that way.
“When you step on board the Ascension you are freeing yourselves from the shackles of your old lives. You are entering into service with God. Allow us to carry you, in comfort, to your new lives.”
Finding himself enslaved in the order’s coal mine, Gideon is correctly singled out as a potential troublemaker and escapee.
Bland and predictable stuff, except that at one point, the nuns release a former Austrian customs official named Hitler because his wife has recently born a son, named you-know-who. This apparently justifies the story’s title, or is justified by it, or is going to play some subsequent role in the novel, or for some other reason the author supposed it was a good idea. I would have suggested he give it a second thought.
“Lawful Interception” by Cory Doctorow
Another tie-in: a Little Brother story. Which makes it a YA tie-in. So we open with Marcus, our narrator and protagonist, caught up in an earthquake and suffering a bit of PTSD in consequence, but determined, with his girlfriend Ange, to keep doing the good work, whatever that might turn out to be. It turns out to be the Occupy movement.
The thing that bound us all together was the realization that taking care of each other kicked ass. Seneca had knocked a ton of local businesses flat, literally and figuratively, and it had left plenty of people without schools, homes and jobs. But that was just an accelerated version of what had been happening to this part of the east bay—and across America—for years. Pretty much everyone I knew was either out of work or only half-employed, from my parents to all the kids I went to school with.
But we all know what happened to the Occupy movement. So Marcus decides to do something.
From time to time, I occupy myself by pondering exactly what is YA fiction and how it differs from the stuff meant for consumption by adults. Here’s one answer: YA tells its readers they can do something. That they can make a difference, that they can score points against the establishment/enemy, that they might even be able to win a round, by being clever, innovative, better with digital media, on the side of right. This is, of course, a political work, a contemporary political work, and the author is quite clear who occupies the side of right and who the enemy is. That’s another thing about YA, at least about this example of it.