REVIEW: “Operators” by Joel Richards

Review of Joel Richards, “Operators”, Asimov’s Science Fiction November/December (2017): 150-159 — Purchase Here. Reviewed by Kiera Lesley.

I really love people thinking about technology disrupting different industries and what happens when people don’t think through the implementation ahead of time. Autonomous vehicles are a big deal contemporary speculative topic, but it’s mostly been focused on cars. Operators looks instead at trucks and logistics, a big deal economy and enterprise across the world and particularly in America where long-haul trucking of various goods is ingrained.

I loved how the protagonist had to balance competing interests in this – hired by the big trucking companies to spy on his fellows, but somehow trying not to be the bad guy either. The conflict wasn’t overwhelming, but it drove the character and story well. I found the tone really made this piece. It was down-to-earth and personable, which suited the setting and characters being portrayed. You don’t want fancy metaphors in a piece that deal with people down on their luck and out of work in the middle of nowhere. The ending was nifty and smart, staying true to the viewpoint character and managing to be a bit surprising as well.