Divya paints a very interesting world with a few strokes Through the eyes of Marmeg, we see the raging social inequalities held in place, surprisingly by both sides Dualities seem to be everywhere people benefiting from the system and those who don t, people with exoskeletons and opting for a neutral gender and those firm against any technology In fact, most characters in this novella see things one way or the other, black or white, and this is where Marmeg shines in her refusal to follow this, to find her own route, physically, andimportantly morally Great thought provoking read Hope the author carries on with the story. There s some interesting stuff in this novella, but it felt underdeveloped It never caught fire, and so often didn t fulfill its promise Certain things are given a cursory nod, when it would have been great to hear read . A terrific little novella with elements of human cyber enhancement and the lived experience of being an illegal immigrant in the US Marmeg is of Filipino descent and living as an unlicensed person in the US like most of her family In this US of the future you need a citizen license to access any of society s infrastructure and it costs a lot of money to get one A background piece early on shows politicians trying to make itexpensive She s under huge pressure from her mother to give up on her dreams to be an enhancement engineer and to becomecyborged But instead, she enters a wilderness race for the cyber enhanced, using enhancements that she s salvaged, repaired and programmed herself in the goal of winning enough prize money to get herself a future and to buy her youngest sibling his citizen license.This is terrific Marmeg s drive to become better is palpable, and she faces huge obstacles including her wonderfully supportive not mother There s interesting perspective as well from the anti enhancement people that she encounters, who initially start making sense, but then show some really disturbing moral choices.I d love to readin this world. I read all of Tor.com s novellas, which is a good thing because I otherwise might have missed out on this gem by S.B Divya I would never have picked up a story about a cyborg endurance race on my own, but I m glad I read this one Runtime is a marvel of world building and character portraiture wrapped around a perfectly executed straightforward plot and just the right amount of smart but not overbearing social commentary It s a near perfect use of the novella length, and I cannot wait to see what S.B Divya does next.Read the full review at SF Bluestocking. ( Free E-pub ) ⚖ Runtime ♋ The Minerva Sierra Challenge Is A Grueling Spectacle, The Cyborg S Tour De France Rich Thrill Seekers With Corporate Sponsorships, Extensive Support Teams, And Top Of The Line Exoskeletal And Internal Augmentations Pit Themselves Against The Elements In A Day Long Race Across The Sierra NevadaMarmeg Guinto Doesn T Have Funding, And She Doesn T Have Support She Cobbled Her Gear Together From Parts She Found In Rich People S Garbage And Spent The Money Her Mother Wanted Her To Use For Nursing School To Enter The Race But The Minerva Challenge Is The Only Chance She Has At A Better Life For Herself And Her Younger Brothers, And She S Ready To Risk It All Runtime Is S B Divya S Exciting Science Fiction Debut
I received a signed copy of this novella from the author during Nebula Weekend.Divya s novella is fine scifi an underdog tale of a cross country runner with an exoskeleton built out of scrap parts Marmeg is a heroine you can truly root for, someone who works with black market goods out of necessity to survive, but keeps her eyes on the prize of college and a better life beyond The world building here is really something This is a future America with frequent body modifications and an unsettling yet realistic caste system many things are merely implied, and I can t help but want Divya to writeworks in this setting Then there is the race itself, where Marmeg confronts the brutality of nature and her fellow competitors and everything leads to an ending that is complicated and oh so right.This is a novella to keep in mind when I vote for the Hugos and Nebulas next year. I received this as an egalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.This was a pretty interesting story of a young woman entering a race using an exoskeleton suit , hoping to win and use the prize money to better her life and her family s It tackles some ethical questions about cheating and doing the right thing even when it means it might hurt you.It was enjoyable and I thought the use of language was strong, but the story didn t go as deep as I wanted it to I would love to readin this world though and see the details fleshed out. Small book about the US having a caste system and one woman s attempt to get out of hers Kind of heart breaking toward the end with a nice HEA happy every after. Well, fuck me This was way too short I was loving this and digging this world and so ready for what was going on with gender and then it stopped Apparently this was just a novella Damn But regardless, this was excellent Loved the setting, loved the shit about immigrants and naturals and citizens, loved the gender stuff Want , please. There are the bones of an interesting world here, but the story fails to sufficiently flesh them out S.B Divya is a talented writer, but I neededfrom this novella I enjoyed that the story got going right away, but there was not sufficient time left for world building Additionally, there were two aspects that made me very frustrated The conflation of cyborg mods and gender identity was probably the thing I disliked most about this book It felt like gender identity was entirely tied to bodies very obviously in the blatant transphobia of two of the characters, but also by the underlying world building As far as I could tell, the people who used ze zir pronouns were those with lots of cyborg body mods and surgery that altered sex associated anatomy and left them sterile Which is a very different thing than having a non binary gender identity Like, hey, in fact you cannot tell anyone s pronouns by looking at them For me, the topic of gender identity was just very poorly handled I actually don t think identity was ever even mentioned discussed , and I was annoyed by what seemed to be unnecessary transphobic comment and misgendering in the middle The other aspect that made me angry was the theme about earning your place in an inherently unjust society I kept hoping that Marmeg would get past this, but by the end she is still saying that she has to prove herself Look, the idea that people who are structurally disadvantaged have to play by the rules, work hard, and get the approval of people in power to be successful is a lie that only serves to maintain social hierarchies.