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

Diabolical Plots #2, April 2015

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Diabolical Plots #2, April 2015

Virtual Blues” by Lee Buhar-Danoff

Reviewed by Joshua Berlow

This story examines the downside to our 24/7 online life--the social media future that cyberpunk predicted. It’s one of the better stories I have read this year. This is only the second story that Diabolical Plots has published. DP is better known for their Submission Grinder, on online submission tool that took center stage after the Duotrope submission tracker starting charging writers. If this story is any indication, Diabolical Plots is going to be an important venue for online science fiction.

In “Virtual Blues” we have a wonderful musically-inspired story that creatively re-imagines a cyberpunk future. Sal used to be jacked-in 24/7, but he’s down and out. He can’t afford to be a hooked-in “wirehead” anymore. He’s suffering withdrawal. He can’t afford to place his electronic music concerts online for his wide audience either--he’s reduced to playing an acoustic guitar on the street for spare change. He’s lucky if he makes enough change to stay in a hostel another week.

Some people thought cyberpunk portrayed a techno-utopian future. The concept of a techno-utopian future has an eminent history in science-fiction, but is now considered the naïve vision of the fifties pulps. We’d live together in harmony, our food efficiently replicated at the touch of a button. Cyberpunk really envisioned a techo-dystopian future. The cyberpunk future is technologically enhanced, but not squeaky clean. Real life is messy and not always efficient. Techno-utopians emphasize the “cyber” but ignore the “punk.” Punk is punk music--gritty, DIY, loud, annoying, in-your-face, and up from the streets.

Follow Joshua Berlow on Twitter: @GlobalPsychogeo