Review: Infomocracy by Malka Older


Do elections become more democratic when everyone has access to to the same infinite, universal information? Does ease of access to information and universal availability and ability to vote diminish voting disenfranchisement and lead to smarter, more thoughtful voting outcomes?

Maybe. Ideally. It’d be nice if that happened.

Malka Older’s cyberpunk election thriller Infomocracy posits a late twenty-first century future in which microdemocracy is the norm. Instead of traditional, old-fashioned nation-states, Earth (or rather its participating constituents, but that’s still most of Earth) is divided up into 100,000-people voting blocs called “centenals.” Rural areas may have only a couple of centenals spread out over hundreds of miles, while densely packed cities can have a couple hundred centenals within the space of several street blocks.

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Review: Company Town by Madeline Ashby

company town

Go Jung-hwa is a rare bird in the oil-rig city of New Arcadia—she’s an “organic,” the only person with no genetic modification, digital implants, or bionic enhancements. An unplanned, unwanted, and scorned daughter, marked with a scarlet stain on half her body due to the congenital disorder Sturge-Weber, Hwa’s unedited appearance doubly marks her as an outsider on the rig, where everyone modifies their bodies, whether for beauty or health, and utilizes implanted tech to communicate, access information, interact with the city at large … or to murder

Hwa has made a name for herself as a top-notch fighter, and she has a solid job with the city’s union for sex workers as a bodyguard. Her name becomes even more valuable after the astronomically powerful Lynch family buys New Arcadia, whose oil rig determines that of the city’s. The head of the Lynch family hires Hwa to bodyguard his youngest son, who is also his heir. Because Hwa is an organic, she can’t be tracked or controlled through implants, and the stain on her face distorts facial recognition software. Hwa is charged with protecting Lynch’s heir from assassination by a killer who Lynch believes is threatening his son from the far future.

No sooner does she accept when a serial killer begins targeting residents of New Arcadia—former charges from Hwa’s old job. Hwa is now on a mission to track down those responsible for threatening the safety and future of New Arcadia and for daring to mess with the people Hwa swore to protect at all cost.

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