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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Strange Horizons, 12 September 2005

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"Exception" by Jason Stoddard

“Exception” by Jason Stoddard is another story featuring Gillam Anderson, an Editor who removes unnecessary memories from the minds of the elderly.  The virtual reality world of Arcadia is being taken over by a virus called the Aficionado.  Gillam is given the task of going into Arcadia and eradicating the virus.

The real issue in the story is the nature of reality and existence.  At first, the Aficionado doesn’t believe that Gillam is anything more than a figment of his imagination, and Gillam begins by thinking the Aficionado is a computer virus.  Throughout the course of the story, they attempt to convince each other that they exist.

The tone of the piece is sterile, which made it difficult to connect to in spite of a smooth writing style.  Despite Gillam being a recurring character (or perhaps because of it), I did not find him particularly compelling; the Aficionado seemed more emotional and real.  Reading Stoddard's other Gillam the Editor stories fills in some of the blanks.

The idea of editing the human mind is intriguing, and I look forward to more of Stoddard’s explorations of this world.