Review of Bentley A. Reese “We Are New(s)”, Apex Magazine 106 (2018): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.
It’s always nice to be surprised. Case in point: this is not the sort of story I like. Weird dialects, an ambiguous narrator, creepy levels of social stratification, technological connection taken to the extreme: this is everything that tends to irritate me about cyberpunk. But this story? I love it.
The world is a near future cyberpunk, both strange and recognizably descended from our present day. The plot is meet-cute, with a low-class boy approaching a high-class girl, and making a genuine connection. But the narrator, the POV character, is something outside of them, something almost omniscient, tied to the constant stream of social media and news updates the near-future internet. It has a creepiness and discomfort that kept me reading.
Beyond the plot, this is a great story about how we interact with current events and media. It’s not exactly a cautionary tale, but it holds a dark mirror to our modern day obsessions and interests. It shows us our addiction to outrage and violence and viral content. Recommended for fans of cyberpunk and anyone who likes cutting social observations in their science fiction.