3 of 5 stars.
This speculative tale shows a world nearly inseparable from its AI, virtual reality and tech body-mods. But all the VR and AI in the world cannot make up for the real world loss of a brother to suicide.
Frederic DuSang is a talented hacker/coder with a score to settle. His little brother Jackie offed himself when he was outed online and then ridiculed and humiliated. Shortly thereafter, Frederic’s mother left him and his father.
Ironically, it’s Frederic that Filrod turned to when he needed his drives unlocked–drives loaded with sensitive information including sexual videos on par with what Filrod had used against Jackie. Frederic sets a trap in the form of an entrancing VR realm, Azathoth, that appears boundless and alive that feeds off thoughts and memories and the uploaded info fed to it. With Filrod rapt, Frederic tries to turn away despite Jackie’s voice calling to him from this supernatural beyond . . .
“At Home With Azathoth” appears in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran after originally appearing in Searchers After Horror: New Tales of the Weird and Fantastic, ed. S. T. Joshi (Fedogan & Bremer, 2014). I’ve previously reviewed Shirley’s excellent “Isolation Point, California” and “Aftertaste”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]