Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Dead, by Michael Swanwick

This fine little tale got nominated for a Hugo and a Nebula in 1997.  Swanwick is kind of all over the place for me, but his best is extremely good.  He always has interesting ideas behind what he writes.  The Dead is a zombie story, but not the kind where you shoot them--they are on the verge of becoming the new automated workforce.  The tale is told from the perspective of a man who is signing on to be part of the change, but is just now realizing that he ought to be repulsed.

Really, this is a robot story with corpses.  But the fact that it IS corpses adds an important element.  If the dead can be revived to work, how low would we stoop to ensure a supply?  Pretty damn low, according to Swanwick, and if we put on the brakes we will simply lose out to someone who won't.  Pretty bleak future, but compelling, I have to say.  At least a future run by robots won't have to explicitly slaughter people.  Three stars, on the high end of that.

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