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The Regular

Ken Liu

Nebula-nominated Novella

"The Regular" by Ken Liu seamlessly blends futuristic technology into detective noir. It shares the tropes of the typical pulpish P.I. novel; the main character has a shattered family and a contentious relationship with law enforcement. It's also got one of the most interesting speculative elements in the book; while most of the stories deal with replaced limbs and body systems and such -- what we tend to visualize when we think "cyborg" -- one of several available "upgrades" in this story is a Regulator, which stabilizes adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin for optimal emotional performance. It's dependence on this device that puts a twist on the typical P.I. addiction narrative, and it's the ocean of grief that threatens to overwhelm detective Ruth that gives her the wisdom to overcome desperate odds when all the electronic advancements on Earth can't help her.
(synopsis by The Skiffy and Fanty Show)


Read this story online for free at Neil Clarke's Forever magazine (mobi or epub).

The Dervish House

Ian McDonald

It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shockwaves from this random act of 21st century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square.

Welcome to the world of The Dervish House; the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. The year is 2027 and Turkey is about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its accession to the European Union; a Europe that now runs from the Arran Islands to Ararat. Population pushing one hundred million, Istanbul swollen to fifteen million; Turkey is the largest, most populous and most diverse nation in the EU, but also one of the poorest and most socially divided. It's a boom economy, the sweatshop of Europe, the bazaar of central Asia, the key to the immense gas wealth of Russia and Central Asia.

Gas is power. But it's power at a price, and that price is emissions permits. This is the age of carbon consciousness: every individual in the EU has a card stipulating individual carbon allowance that must be produced at every CO2 generating transaction. For those who can master the game, who can make the trades between gas price and carbon trading permits, who can play the power factions against each other, there are fortunes to be made. The old Byzantine politics are back. They never went away.

The ancient power struggled between Sunni and Shia threatens like a storm: Ankara has watched the Middle East emerge from twenty-five years of sectarian conflict. So far it has stayed aloof. A populist Prime Minister has called a referendum on EU membership. Tensions run high. The army watches, hand on holster. And a Galatasary Champions' League football game against Arsenal stokes passions even higher.

The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core--the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself--that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama and a ticking clock of a thriller.

Nexus

Nexus 5: Book 1

Ramez Naam

Mankind gets an upgrade

In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link humans together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.

When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he's thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage - for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.

From the halls of academe to the halls of power, from the headquarters of an elite US agency in Washington DC to a secret lab beneath a top university in Shanghai, from the underground parties of San Francisco to the illegal biotech markets of Bangkok, from an international neuroscience conference to a remote monastery in the mountains of Thailand - Nexus is a thrill ride through a future on the brink of explosion.

Blood Music

Greg Bear

Hugo and Nebula Award winning novelette. It originally appeared in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1983. It has been expanded to the full novel Blood Music (1985) and has been reprinted many times. It can be found in the anthologies:

It is included in the collections Tangents (1989) and The Collected Stories of Greg Bear (2002).

Read the full story for free at the Baen website.

All Tomorrow's Parties

The Bridge Trilogy: Book 3

William Gibson

Rydell is on his way back to near-future San Francisco. A stint as a security man in an all-night Los Angeles convenience store has convinced him his career is going nowhere, but his friend Laney, phoning from Tokyo, says there's more interesting work for him in Northern California. And there is, although it will eventually involve his former girlfriend, a Taoist assassin, the secrets Laney has been hacking out of the depths of DatAmerica, the CEO of the PR firm that secretly runs the world and the apocalyptic technological transformation of, well, everything. William Gibson's new novel, set in the soon-to-be-fact world of "Virtual Light" and "Idoru", completes a stunning, brilliantly imagined trilogy about the post-Net world.

Waste Tide

Chen Qiufan

Mimi is drowning in the world's trash.

She's a waste worker on Silicon Isle, where electronics -- from cell phones and laptops to bots and bionic limbs ? are sent to be recycled. These amass in towering heaps, polluting every spare inch of land. On this island off the coast of China, the fruits of capitalism and consumer culture come to a toxic end.

Mimi and thousands of migrant waste workers like her are lured to Silicon Isle with the promise of steady work and a better life. They're the lifeblood of the island's economy, but are at the mercy of those in power.

A storm is brewing, between ruthless local gangs, warring for control. Ecoterrorists, set on toppling the status quo. American investors, hungry for profit. And a Chinese-American interpreter, searching for his roots.

As these forces collide, a war erupts -- between the rich and the poor; between tradition and modern ambition; between humanity's past and its future.

Mimi, and others like her, must decide if they will remain pawns in this war or change the rules of the game altogether.

Hammered

Jenny Casey: Book 1

Elizabeth Bear

Once Jenny Casey was somebody's daughter. Once she was somebody's enemy. Now the former Canadian special forces warrior lives on the hellish streets of Hartford, Connecticut, in the year 2062. Racked with pain, hiding from the government she served, running with a crime lord so she can save a life or two, Jenny is a month shy of fifty, and her artificially reconstructed body has started to unravel. But she is far from forgotten. A government scientist needs the perfect subject for a high-stakes project and has Jenny in his sights. Suddenly Jenny Casey is a pawn in a furious battle, waged in the corridors of the Internet, on the streets of battered cities, and in the complex wirings of her half-man-made nervous system. And she needs to gain control of the game before a brave new future spins completely out of control.

Prey

Michael Crichton

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles—micro-robots—has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour. Every attempt to destroy it has failed.

And we are the prey.

Forest of Memory

Mary Robinette Kowal

Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people's lives have value, after all.

But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest.

There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya's story of what happened in the forest. You'll just have to believe her.

Influx

Daniel Suarez

What if our civilization is more advanced than we know?

Are smart phones really humanity's most significant innovation since the moon landings? Or can something else explain why the bold visions of the 20th century - fusion power, genetic enhancements, artificial intelligence, cures for common disease, extended human life, and a host of other world-changing advances - have remained beyond our grasp? Why has the high-tech future that seemed imminent in the 1960's failed to arrive?

Perhaps it did arrive... but only for a select few.

Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they've been working toward for years: a device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics - the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring. This Bureau of Technology Control uses the advanced technologies they have harvested over the decades to fulfill their mission.

They are living in our future.

Presented with the opportunity to join the BTC and improve his own technology in secret, Grady balks, and is instead thrown into a nightmarish high-tech prison built to hold rebellious geniuses like himself. With so many great intellects confined together, can Grady and his fellow prisoners conceive of a way to usher humanity out of its artificial dark age?

And when they do, is it possible to defeat an enemy that wields a technological advantage half a century in the making?

The Punch Escrow

Tal M. Klein

It's the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We've genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport, the world's most powerful corporation, in a world controlled by corporations.

Joel Byram spends his days training artificial-intelligence engines to act more human and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. He's pretty much an everyday twenty-second century guy with everyday problems, until he's accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.