Friday, May 20, 2016

Short Fiction Friday: Runtime by S.B. Divya

Marmeg has everything riding on the Minerva Sierra Challenge. It's a race she's certain she can place in, if not win. And the winnings would mean enough to buy a license for her youngest brother, pay for her own nursing school, and maybe even buy some better gear. But the race turns out to be way more challenging that Marmeg could have anticipated and she'll soon have to choose between winning and doing the right thing. 

In her latest novella, S.B. Divya imagines a future where humans use technology to increase their strength, to stimulate their stamina, and even to erase and create new personas.

The problem with this future is twofold, though. First, only the richest can actually afford legal purchase of this technology. And the country has a new caste system where money isn't the only requirement - families and individuals require licenses to even get the kind of education that qualifies them for decent jobs (to earn legal money). Marmeg and her family don't qualify, which means that Marmeg's earnings are limited even though she's bright and talented enough to get a great job with a tech company. Instead, her strengths in this regard are put to use on the black market and on her own gear. Gear that's scavenged from trash bins and barely hanging together. This hindrance has always been apparent to Marmeg. It's one of the reasons she wants so badly to be able to purchase a license for her younger brother - so he'll have opportunities the rest of her family missed out on.

The second issue is one that's less obvious to Marmeg considering her own views on the world: folks are becoming increasingly less prepared for a world in which technology is compromised or altogether non existent.

This latter is an interesting element of the story and one that I particularly liked. Honestly, it's an element of our current society that I already see as problematic even if you consider the smallest inconvenience - your WiFi or internet goes out and you need to look up a phone number. Holy crap! I have phone books galore and DO know how to use them but there are plenty of folks who don't. There's also the issue that with less call for phone books, less folks are in them at all. Is your cell phone in a phone book? Do you have the numbers in your phone memorized? Think about it...

Of course it's a much broader issue that phone numbers in the story. It's survival. And Marmeg is faced with just that challenge as part of the race itself.

I really enjoyed Divya's tale but I definitely wanted more. This was just a taste, a sampling, of a world that can encompass so much story! And Marmeg's own story ends rather abruptly in this installment. So far there's no news about whether Divya will be returning to this world but I certainly hope that's the plan.

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