Lauren C. Teffeau
Angry Robot 2018
Emery, Em for short, is a smart and dedicated college graduate. She anticipates a future in which she, and eventually, her parents, can escape the lower strata of the domed city of New Worth. She hopes her upcoming career as a data curator, someone who pores over the copious electronic exchanges which constantly overwrite the old, will make the sacrifice of her parents worthwhile. They saved their money to buy her an implant, a neurological link to the data network, so that she would be in an advantageous position.
But just as she’s about to move her virtual relationship with a man she knows as Rik to the next level, after meeting him in person, her life takes a twist. Em has a secret life pursuing and punishing criminals who rip the valuable implants out and resell them. In a highly structured society, she’s taken the law into her own hands, making her vulnerable to blackmail. Aventine, a pseudo-government company which specializes in safe data-transfer by through encoding the data in the blood of its couriers, wants her to work for them. They’ll pay off her sizable school debt, and keep her past activities tracking criminals secret. They promise exciting and fulfilling work. There’s only one catch. She will be officially dead.
To prevent friends from recognizing her, she’ll be outfitted with safeguards, including a slightly altered physical appearance, and a variety of false ids. Although Em misses Rik and her friends and family, she tells herself they’re better off without her. She soon becomes comfortable with her Aventine handler, Tahir, and gets to know some of the other couriers. But when a data-drop turns dangerous, and a man gets shot, Em doesn’t know who to trust anymore.
Could she turn to Rik for help? She’s only met him once in person, and besides, he seems to be sympathetic to a radical contingent of Disconnects, who are calling the whole idea of implants into question.