The Regular • 2014 • Near Future SF novella by Ken Liu



Female cyborg Ruth is engaged in a noir style murder case of a prostitute. The story follows murderer and private detective in their struggle to stay in control.


I know Ken Liu from his story “The Long Haul” but also from his translation of the Three-Body Problem.

I liked the detailed portrayal of both main protagonists, but I loved the emotionally damaged Ruth, abusing a futuristic gadget called “The Regulator” which optimizes adrenaline or endorphines to stabilize her emotions. Very often, futuristic elements only play minor roles in SF detective stories. Liu masterfully embeds the device into the story: it is central to Ruth’s past, her character development, but also to the plot line and thrilling showdown itself.

There is a second futuristic gadget which led to the story idea – a Wifi device which can interpret body language by measuring wave disturbances. It is an extrapolation of a scientific article, and I can only hope for my privacy’s sake that it will never be built.

In summary, it is an engaging, highly exciting SF noir story. I even find it better than Nancy Kress’ Nebula award winning novella Yesterday’s Kin.

Meta: isfdb. This Near Future SF novella was published September 2014 in Upgraded. I read it as part of The Year’s Best SF #32. It is available for free.



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