Covenant • 2014 • Near SF short story by Elizabeth Bear

★★★1/2

Meta: isfdb. This Near SF short story appeared 2014 in Hieroglyph. It was re-published in The Best SF&F of the Year 2015.

Synopsis: A sociopathic series killer is sentenced to “rightminding” – changing his brain function as well as his body. Some late 21st century winter morning in New England, the former predator finds herself as a prey.

Who would have guessed that peak oil would be linked so clearly to peak psychopathy?

Review:  Neuroplasticity, „hacking“ the human mind to correct wrong-doers seems to be appealing at first, and an acceptable way out of death sentences. But I have my doubts:

Human dignity is inviolable.

I hope, future society will find a better way to re-integrate criminals, than turning wolves into lambs. The story reminds me heavily of Clockwerk Orange where the state redeems sociapathic Alex, „but at what cost?“. The narration itself has a good flow and I liked the setting and characterization of the serial killer.

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