Short Story Review: “Capitalism in the 22nd Century, or A.I.R.” by Geoff Ryman

2 of 5 stars.

Reality is relative. Discerning virtual reality from reality becomes trickier when the level of interaction between artificial intelligence–worse, artificial intelligence with an agenda–ramps up. Think: The Matrix. But unlike in that movie, where the virtual reality placates the humans into subservience, here the experienced reality is dystopian and oppressive, yet another generally effective means of controlling the masses.

Cristina and Graca, Brazilian twins in an oppressive 22nd Century, like most people have spent most of their time plugged in. But between the Chinese overlords and Artificial Intelligence controlling perception of reality, it’s difficult to know what’s real. Cristina narrates this tale of planning and escape, first to Africa and then to a ship to launch them into the freedom of off-Earth colonies.

Assuming they can trust anything of what they experience and any of what they believe to be true, including the role of the Chinese and existence of extraterrestrial free zones.

In short form, the tale remains convoluted due to the multiple interpretations of reality. This tale would benefit from a novel-length exploration of the circumstances of the plot and setting.

This tale appears in a couple “best of” anthologies. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 10 edited by Jonathan Strahan, I received from Netgalley. The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, I received directly from Prime Books.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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