Benjamin Crowell. A Hole in the Ether. (Asimovs September 2013)

asimovs1309Excellent, cautionary story from Crowell, which could easily be expanded into a novel. Indeed the structure of the story, shifting between perspectives quite quickly within the tight narrative was a bit jarring at times, as was the fact that time passed quickly through the story.

Crowell looks at the potential risks of technology, allied with decisions made on copyright and IPR, to posit a future where an old phone with an archive of non-DRM ebooks can have very, very serious consequences.

Bill and his cousin Shona are the sole inheritors of an ageing relative, who has said phone hidden in his house. As the story unfolds we find out just how bad things have got in terms of surveillance, ubiquitous AIs, and political ‘supervision’ not far distanced from Orwell’s 1984.

We follow the impact the phone has on Bill and Shona, and Bill’s partner Fari, and their lives. As things get progressively worse for them, they get positively (or negatively!) dire for Earth, as the political situation unravels. There’s a lot to like in the story.

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