Digital Divide, by K.B. Spangler (13:30)

IOD-DigitalDivideToday we see that even when a reader wants an explanation, that’s still no license to provide it intrusively.

What I gleaned about the story: Rachel is the first cyborg assigned as liaison to the human police, but with her scary mental ability to circumvent any tech of any kind, her fellow officers wind up feeling more threatened than enlightened. Sooner or later, this is going to come to blows. And my money is on sooner.

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Technical Note: 99% of all the books I read for IOD display cleanly. I might not like the layout settings with some of them, but the text is visible on the page, in sequential order. With this one, something seems wrong. I suspect that the line-heights specified in the CSS file do not match the requirements of the embedded fonts. But whatever the reason, chapter headings show up in over-large characters, on top of the paragraph text. Not above. On top of. This occurred with the EPUB file, using Calibre as the viewer, which is the reader I use for all IOD books. After I had finished the treadmill session, I went back and checked the Kindle file, which the author had also provided, and saw that there were no such problems there. I don’t charge WTFs for this kind of issue, but I do comment on them when I see them. Publishers, please be sure you are carefully checking all of your publication files, using a number of common reader devices and apps.

WTF #1: Sloppy proofreading

Analysis: Near the bottom of the first page, our POV character encounters an ATM machine that asks her: Would you like to apply for low-rate credit card? Should that have been “a low-rate credit card?” Or should it have been “low-rate credit cards?” Or was this supposed to signify that the screen had been translated from a foreign language, or written in that artificially shortened manner of speech we often see in headlines and advertising? But no, the very next sentence presented yet another service offer, this time complete with the definite article. So it should have been “a low-rate credit card,” but the article was missing.

It’s a minor slip, but every glitch weighs heavily when it comes on the first page. And since I stopped consciously to wonder about the correct reading, it draws a flag.

Kudos #1: An interesting visual device

Details: In this world, our protagonist appears to be able to see peoples’ emotions as a colored nimbus around them. But is she seeing his true emotion, or is it her subconscious interpretation of the emotion. Those are two very differnent things, implying different possibilities for the story, so I’m keen to find out more.

WTF #2: Implausible story point

Analysis: Unfortunately, there was a wrinkle: it seemed the Agents who had received the implant were able to circumvent all electronic security. Passwords, firewalls, airwalls… these meant nothing. If a device could talk to another machine, an Agent could connect to it and take control of it.

My eyes rolled heavily here. In SF, I expect at least a vague hand-wave at how the unusual tech things work, but all we get here is the dreaded “it seems,” which always strikes me as the writer bailing on trying to come up with an explanation.

WTF #3: Conspicuous exposition

Analysis: Eventually we do get an explanation for the cyborg/emotion interface, even if it is just hand-wavy mumbo-jumbo. The real problem though was that it came as an exposition dump with no real in-story rationale. Suddenly, Rachel the protag just starts thinking about the theory behind why she can see and hear things, even though she’s in the middle of a conversation with her cop partner.


THIRTEEN: a collection of 13 dark tales, by Adam Hainline (12:28)
And So May The Wonders Unfurl by Richard Simpson (1:03)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.