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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cyber Asylum (Science Fiction)

by Brian Barr

Publisher: Brian Barr Books (April, 2018)

Softcover, 28 pages

          “And, just as he planned, he was breaking out of this facility easy enough. His body was even stronger than when he entered the asylum, as he spent his waking hours doing nothing but conditioning, bodybuilding, and sprinting around the yard. It took little time to clear one hallway, then another stairwell, all while Ichiro’s memory was on point. He knew the facility in and out, knew where the deactivated cyborg guards would be sprawled out on the floor since they were stopped in their redundant sounds. All of the humans were out that night, recovering from a long day while preparing for tomorrow.”
          Once again, Brian Barr has turned out a superb cyberpunk story in the classic tradition. As I’ve written before, cyberpunk works at its best when it is asking question about the nature of reality and life. What makes someone alive. And if something is a copy of a copy of a copy does that final copy have an identity or life of its own? If you say no, then you must consider how our own identity is created through the combination of DNA and learned behavior. Are we not just inconsistent copies of those who came before?

          In this story, we have an inmate at a cyber-asylum, a famous artist. In the asylum a person is placed into a tank and their mind is whisked to cyberspace to work on their disorders in peace, away from the soul sucking world and the people in it. The protagonist is in his so long that his body is on the verge of total decay. He must make a decision then whether to escape with another inmate and be downloaded into an artificial body or die. As you might guess, that’s not much a choice. The story in an intriguing sci-fi tale, and I would recommend to everyone with an interest in the genre.

             For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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