His Master’s Voice • 2008 • posthuman SF shortstory by Hannu Rajaniemi

★★★★★

Meta: ISFDB. This posthuman SF short story appeared 2008 in Interzone #218 and was republished later on in several year’s best anthologies. Additionally, it will appear in his anthology Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction. It is also available online.

Synopsis: 

Before the concert, we steal the master’s head.

Impressing starting line, isn’t it? Given the title and this sentence, you’ll instantly think of a dog. That’s the bio-augmented main protagonist of this post human SF story starting somewhere on a lonely oil platform in the Arctic cycle. A rabbit teached him and the master’s cat to understand language and be far more intelligent. They do what dogs and cats do until the day when a wrong master appears – one without smell, one that is a plural, a printed alter ego of the master. That is apparently a crime which is atoned for by some legal corporation – they cut off the transgressive master’s head. Which leads to the pets’ daring rescue mission.

Review: I instantly loved this Puss in Boots story starting with the first sentence. You’ll get the typical Rajaniemi mix with nano, quantum dots, or smart matter, but this time not in a dosis which will overwhelm you. It is set in the past of Quantum Thief’s world. World-building is excellent, main technology here is 3D printing, but all those technologies are only sidekicks for the main plot. The canine protagonist is characterized excellently with its loyality, playfulness, the sniffing, hunting and interactions with cat and master. Rajaniemi connects the dog’s senses to music. And the record label’s trademark picture is to be taken literally. Rajaniemi weaves a complex plot with flashbacks  and builds an excellent tension arc with twists and turns, which reads like a spy or con thriller augmented with a sense of wonder. Outstanding, unique voice, a masterpiece!

 

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