Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 2007The 30th Anniversary Year issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine.

Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
October 2007 issue.
Listed under “A”, magazines section at NLB public libraries.

Memorable story: “The Bridge” by Kathleen Ann Goonan (p. 57 to 77).

Part of the story can be read online, from Asimov.com.

Told from the perspective of a down-and-out private detective hired to retrieve the DNA of the victims so that the truth can be revealed. He does his own investigation and learns that there may be more than what’s apparent. Turns out his employer is from “across the bridge”, a place where nanotechnology has apparently gone wild, or so it seems.

The setting is in a “post-conversion” human society, where wired & radio communications technology have been replaced by nanotechnology (information being transmitted by organic culture and bacteria!), where just about anything — humans to buildings — receive or transmit information by being “infused with receptor capabilities”.

“Artificial People” are also common place; technology having reached a level where memories and personalities can be routinely replicated. There are hints of the legal and ethical dilemma that follows.

Like good Sci Fi stories (those I like anyway), it gives you enough clues but stops short of directly telling the Hows and Whys of the technology and how the society functions as a result.

The “Science” doesn’t overwhelm the “Story”.

It gave me, the reader, enough ideas to speculate and I end up being amazed at how the writer can think of such a thing, and weave it in so naturally into the story.

One highlight in the story was how the detective visited the (public) library to obtain information on the case. He’s attended by the librarian, who clues him into how the nano-receptor technology works and how to retrieve and store the information.

Heh.

This passage could be an analogy of how in today’s context, we end up not having any choice but to adopt and use the technology if we wish to obtain information. And that once tried, it’s not as bad as it seems. Or if it’s “bad”, you can still choose to turn your back on it, but you have to accept that some things will not be available to you.

In my opinion, it would be an excellent story for a READ! Singapore discussion session.

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