Forward Collection #6
Short Story, Scifi
Amazon Original; September 17, 2019
28 pages (ebook); 48 min (audio)
2 / 5 ✪
Niki Hawkes just did this too over on her site, and her review’s about the same—if a little less positive. She influenced me to read this, though you really wouldn’t expect it from what she said about it.
A short heist thriller, from The Martian author Andy Weir, aims to deliver both suspense and drama for an morning commute or afternoon tea. Sadly, this story falls well short of anything thrilling—instead managing only to fill that afternoon with mild disappointment. And tea.
Nick Chen has an problem. IT Manager for the Babylon Casino in Vegas, his job is safe as long as his boss’s money is. So far, the random number generator running the casino’s keno system has done what it does best: randomly generate numbers. But with the release of quantum computers, that’s no longer the case. Now the numbers can be tracked and predicted, so long as the someone has the money, equipment and expertise to do so. It may seem like long odds, but Nick prefers no odds to long ones. Fortunately, Nick has a solution. And all it’ll take is approval from his boss, Edwin Rutledge. That, and a ton of money.
Sumi Singh has a problem. A genius of epic proportions, she married down—but fell in love. Despite her faith in her husband Prashant’s business, they’re a bit empty on funds, a bit lacking in space, and a bit out of time. They need money—and they need it now. Luckily, Sumi has a plan. And all it’ll take is a quantum computer, a prescribed set of numbers, and a certain casino. And she can already smell the success.
So, a short story, built upon a heist like Ocean’s 11. Too bad it’s so short.
Randomize tells a complete story in a small package. Only 28 pages, or 48 minutes in audio form. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t very interesting. After an incredibly quick setup, Weir skips right to the suspense. Except there really isn’t any. It’s a thriller that didn’t thrill. It’s fairly tepid, really. With the quick build, there wasn’t a sense of conflict, nor a chance to bond with or care about any of the characters. Now the characters seemed legitimately interesting. But then everything’s wrapped up and the story ends. I find it difficult to care about anything that takes half the time trying to explain the technology that makes the story coherent only to later wrap everything up in half a damn page.
Imagine a 10 minute version of Ocean’s 11. How would one inject such a thing with all the action, all the suspense, all the drama into a piece so short? Well, as it turns out, one wouldn’t. Randomize is a thriller that doesn’t thrill. A way to spend your commute or your afternoon if you don’t care about substance, excitement or plot. It’s not the worst thing that you could read, but even if you think it might be—then it’s over. If you got it free (like I did), and you’ve some time to kill: knock yourself out. Otherwise, skip it.
So, just a quick one today. Tomorrow there’ll be a longer, better review of an upcoming ARC, due out Tuesday. Maybe come back and check it out! Also, has anyone read any of the other Forward Collection? Are they worth reading? I’ve done a pair now, and my opinion of them is pretty split. If you missed the review of Summer Frost—find it here!