Digital Rites A Tale of What Happens When Synthetic Actors Begin to Die in Hollywood
Digital Rites by Jim Hawkins
So after reading lousy novel that was somehow entertaining in a “So bad its good” kind of way, I decided to dive back into the 29th Edition of the Year’s Best Scifi in hopes I may find a hidden gem. And the story I read this time around is called Digital Rites by Jim Hawkins.
He story begins with a supermodel and actress who is vacationing in Europe. She is ran off the road. Her demise is one of half a dozen actor deaths across the world. This drawls the attention of local police department in the town of the first death. It also draws the attention of Pinewood Studios to whom all these actors belong too. The studio sends people to Europe to work with the police at the first incident to stop more from dying. This is essential because these actors are not the typical actors. These actors appear to be some sort of synthetic people whose brains are interconnected and the death of one can cause the death of other and so on.
The good? This is a quite interesting look at Hollywood. To gain perfection in films, perfect programmable people are used. Not only that they we reusing nanite technology in their brains to send out signals that make them beloved in the public. He story examines what happened if this system falls apart and must consider doing the normal. It also explores the repulsion of the police department when they learn what happens in Hollywood. All well. Very character from both sides face the morality and some make decisions whether they should continue their line of work or not.
The bad? First of all, this story is not clear about the technology. First the story explains that there are multiple copies of people in different spots at once. Pinewood studios explains to the police they only modify the brains, but these are real people who volunteered. Then toward the end, the studio executives discuss how long it would grow a brain and they must get another amber (Which is the name of one of the dead actors.) They said it straight out. It’s just implied the actors are built in some lab. I wish it was clearer to follow. Then chasing down the bad guy at the end was a bit lack luster, as the story seems to be an interesting examination of the collapsing of this alternative version of Hollywood. Also, this story does not use science to support the science fiction all that much. When they explain how this works, they only say it’s because of “Quantum Entanglement.” Which means nothing without context. I wished they tried a little harder.
Overall, this story is not great. It does have a lot of interesting ideas and plays with well. It feels like it could use a little bit of a stronger story arc with the murder mystery tone it started with. But it’s still a nice story. Sometimes it’s just nice to see an author play with fresh new ideas in an interesting way. I say this story is most definitely worth a read. I wouldn’t quite say it’s worth going out of your way to hunt down, because it’s not a must read. But if you do stumble across it, you will certainly enjoy it, because this is a quite unique scifi tale.
3 smoothies out of Four.
Overall Rating: A Tale of What Happens When Synthetic Actors Begin to Die in Hollywood.