It’s been more than 75 years, now, since Harry Bates’ short story “Farewell to the Master” closed with the realization of who (or what) truly is ‘the master’ … bringing that story to a satisfying (or unsettling, or both, take your pick) conclusion, and setting readers off on a new path for thoughtful speculation.
Speculation over our control of technology – or its control of us – has fueled many contributions to the genre of science fiction over the years, and Sara Stamey’s “Wild Card Run” is a good addition to that tradition.
It also serves as a good piece of detective fiction, as Ruth Kurtis is dispatched to the planet of Poindros by a cyberserf. It is NOT a trip Kurtis wants to make, leaving the many satisfactions of her current position at Casino, to return to the physically and emotionally stifling homeworld she fled years before. But she is left with no choice by the serf who seems to have found a way around cybernetic benevolence directives.
Once in the field, Kurtis has plenty of experiences that reinforce her original reluctance to return. But at the same time, she begins to make observations that draw her interest, and may perhaps tie-in to the unspecified problem she has been sent to investigate.
There is Kurtis’ self-interest as well … even as she pursues the mission of the CI back on Casino, she also finds herself being drawn into the mission of a Poindros-based movement, which may hold even less appeal for her than the dispatch that sent her to Poindros to begin with.
Page by page, chapter by chapter, the reader’s interest is raised as well, with more than enough speculation over whether characters and events are truly what they appear to be. It carried me easily to the end of Samey’s story, and has me looking forward to future installments of the promised “Cybers Wild Card” series.
NOTE: I received a free copy of this work through LibraryThing in exchange for a review.
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