REVIEW: “Net Loss” by James Sallis

Review of James Sallis, “Net Loss”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June (2020): 107–108 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Contains spoilers.

The protagonist is unfairly sent to jail when a  “smart” TV hears an argument between him and his girlfriend and calls the police. From then on, his life takes a serious turn for the worse. After he gets out of jail, his girlfriend leaves him, his landlord evicts him, and his name ends up on a sex offenders list. As such, he decides to give in and turn into a real criminal.

Except for the “smart” TV that calls the cops, there’s hardly any speculative elements in the story, so its place in Analog may be questionable. That aside, it was a pleasant read. The prose is written in stream-of-consciousness style, which makes the rather sardonic twist at the end (if one may call it that) work surprisingly well. It felt like navigating through an unstable mind, which I imagine is what the author intended. However, I’m not sure what the title “Net Loss” refers to in the story.

Overall, this was an enjoyable piece of flash fiction.