Review: “Petard: A Tale of Just Deserts” by Cory Doctorow

3 of 5 stars.

This short speculative story takes place another decade or two into the future. Surveillance systems get a lot of use, but contemporary laptops not so much [DIY cardboard laptops are useful, lightweight and widespread]. Body modification has evolved to the point of some people living the full elf lifestyle [think falsetto fey].

The 1st person speaker [probably Petard?–the name never appeared in the story] is wicked smart and a modern Erin Brockovich for privileged students with few real problems in their life. As a high school freshman, he instigates an overthrow of the school’s lunchroom contract by securing food truck service to the students much to the financial consternation of the school board that was to receive a cut for the sub-par gruel. His antics earn him a scholarship to MIT where he fights the dorm association for the censorship of the internet, and then the evicting of potential rabble-rousers and whistle-blowers.

But like a start-up birthed of a good idea not addressed by the marketplace behemoths but later bought out by them, the speaker is seduced by the wide scope of game-theory employed by his residence hall-managing nemesis . . .

I had previously read and reviewed Doctorow’s excellent “Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)”. “Petard: A Tale of Just Deserts” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Twelve Tomorrows.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


2 responses to “Review: “Petard: A Tale of Just Deserts” by Cory Doctorow

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