Cyber World ed. by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola

cyber-world-coverCyber World – Tales of Humanity’s Tomorrow from Hex Publishing is an impressive collection of short stories, combining the innermost elements of human experience and the technological possibilities of a not-so distant future.

Edited by Hugo winner Jason Heller and Joshua Viola, the book includes twenty imaginative works by some impressive names in modern science fiction. If you don’t recognize some of these names, odds are pretty good you will soon. Each entry is brief, allowing the readers just enough of a glance at their work to appreciate the ideas, but vivid enough to demand more.

Included in this anthology:

Serenade by Isabel Yap is a touching tale of a lost file of music and how it brings one’s loved one back.

The Mighty Phin by Nisi Shawl takes readers on a deep look inside the mind of somebody living a virtual existence and a darker view of what prison life really is.

Reactions by Mario Acevedo is a story showing the dangers of playing with the inner workings of the mind, and how sometimes a weapon can never be turned off. In a classical sense, the story is reflective of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Using a complex form of narration, The Bees of Kiribati by Warren Hammond shows how sometimes the most dangerous kind of enemy is the one you do not see.

The Rest Between Two Notes by Cat Rambo illustrates how the daunting task of living up to expectations can be a living horror, but in this tale, it has the feeling of E.A. Poe’s “the Tell Tale Heart.”

In The Singularity Is in Your Hair by Matthew Kressel, sometimes artificial intelligence is more real than the simulated stuff in our minds.

Panic City by Madeline Ashby blurs the line between protection and control, erasing the reality that lies above a hidden city below.

The Faithful Soldier Prompted by Saladin Ahmed (2010, Apex Magazine, issue 18) asks if following your operating system is being faithful to your god, or if it is just chasing an outdated dream.

Your Bones Will Not Be Unknown by Alyssa Wong is a twisted tale of crime bosses and double-crosses in a world where memories are more dangerous than actions.

Reality appears so tangible in Staunch by Paul Graham Raven, even though “every story needs a little bit of fiction.”

Other People’s Thoughts by Chinelo Onwualu is a thought-provoking story. Sometimes, genetic manipulation can end with surprising results. The difference between a curse and a superpower is defined by how these results are used.

In Wysiomg by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, readers will find a bizarre story of cyber manipulation.

We Will Take Care of Our Own is a sad, yet timely tale by Angie Hodapp that looks into the hidden secrets behind the dark business known as politics and what lengths some people will go to get elected.

A Song Transmuted by Sarah Pinsker is a literal take on the old adage that a person can become one with their music.

It’s Only Words by Keith Ferrell blends the existences between the confrontations of the mind and the words within the keyboard.

Small Offerings by Paolo Bacigalupi (2007, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction for the Cutting Edge, Pyr Books) is a chilling look at a dark future where science is the inevitable nightmare of the newborn.

Darkout by E. Lily Yu studies the social division of privacy, reimagining some of the elements familiar to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four.

Visible Damage by Stephen Graham Jones is a literal examination of cyber imagery, pure and simple.

The Ibex on the Day of Extinction by Minister Faust is the spiritual journey of a narrator’s vivid experience of nearing the end of cyber existence.

A bit cryptic and not an easy read, How Nothing Happens by Darin Bradley is a contradiction of reality where the narrator is virtually everywhere taking notes, because it’s his job.

cyber-world-soundtrack-coverIt should be noted that the store at Hex Publishing offers much more than just words. The marketing department went all-out on this one, and it shows. Along with the impressive print copy (estimated release date is November 8, 2016), readers can also pre-order an eBook in various formats, a T-shirt with the same image as the cover art (above) by Aaron Lovett, a pack of trading cards, and a limited edition CD Soundtrack (right). The catchy synthetic music filling the CD includes seven different upbeat works by the artists CellDweller, Circle of Dust, Mega Drive, and Scandroid.

A writer’s ability to smoothly draw readers into a cyber world full of Nano elements, genetic sciences, cybernetics, and transhumanism can often be overshadowed by the techno jargon that takes the work past absurdity to probability. But bringing the human element into the mix is what truly makes science fiction special. Cyber World – Tales of Humanity’s Tomorrow is a collection of character driven stories set in an array of virtual existences.

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