Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Short Story by Robert Reed

This is a story I'm very torn over, in terms of rating. I absolutely love the point Reed is trying to make here, I think it is important, and the overall idea is a great one. Larry Voss is a brilliant middle-aged man who lives alone in a house he inherited from his parents, never working, just living off their life insurance policies. He sits around playing online games all day, a completely meaningless arena in which he is hugely successful.

One day, Larry is scouted by a charitable foundation interested in his wasted potential. The deal doesn't go exactly as he expected, but the twist surely inspires him to greater heights than his slightly improved coasting by would have. As his friend points out earlier, the grants are just a way for the rich to keep the masses content, and as we find out at the end of the story: "sometimes it is best to take a comfortable citizen and make him less so."

So I intensely agree with Reed, I like the setting, and I love the conclusion. But the essential twist is pure bullshit. Even in the fictional world laid out, it makes no sense, and doesn't seem convincingly legal (or even borderline legal enough to stick). And regardless of legality within fictional legal systems, it just seems like too much a game of Xanatos Roulette. The overall plot just makes no sense in terms of being likely. The characters motivations are all clear, and things make sense otherwise, but this is too much of an asspull to get past.

2.5 doppels out of 5.

What is it with so many stories getting the same name, and failing to live up to it?

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