on September 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
“With the Vacation Jury Duty system, jurors can lounge on a comfortable beach while watching the trial via virtual reality. Julio is loving the beach, as well as the views of a curvy fellow juror with a rainbow-lacquered skin modification who seems to be the exact opposite of his recent ex-girlfriend back in Chicago. Because of jury sequestration rules, they can’t talk to each other at all, or else they’ll have to pay full price for this Acapulco vacation. Still, Julio is desperate to catch her attention. But while he struts and tries to catch her eye, he also becomes fascinated by the trial at hand.
At first it seemed a foregone conclusion that the woman on trial used a high-tech generative kitchen to feed her husband a poisonous meal, but the more evidence mounts, the more Julio starts to suspect the kitchen may have made the decision on its own.”
I think this is an amazing idea. It is 2060. Sequestered juries are sent on an all expense paid trip to a resort. People try to get on juries now instead of getting out of it. This jury out of Chicago is in Acapulco. They watch the trial on headsets. The headsets can show the trial superimposed on the real world so you can walk around the resort while you watch.
- You have to watch 8 hours of the trial a day but you can do it on your own schedule.
- You have to finish your viewing for the day before you can be served any alcohol.
- You can’t talk to any of the other people in the resort.
If you break the rules, you are sent home with a bill for your vacation.
The defendant has a generative kitchen. It monitors the health of the people in the home and changes the food to meet their individual needs. Sick? It will add nutrients. Depressed? Get mood boosters in your food. There is no question that it increased the cyanide levels in the trout almondine but did the defendant request it or did it do it on its own?
I loved the two original ideas in this novella – the generative kitchen and the vacationing jurors. The main character is Julio, a juror. I hated him from the beginning. He has a wonderful girlfriend at home. He is planning on breaking up with her because she isn’t very feminine looking and she won’t change her look to please him. Well good for her! He starts to get obsessed and stalkerish over another juror at the resort. She has an ultrafeminine look due to extensive body modification. He can’t talk to her due to the jury rules but he tries to get as close as possible within the rules. He imagines a life with her based entirely on how she looks since he has no idea what she is actually like and it never occurs to him to care.
When the jury heads back to Chicago to deliberate he finally gets to talk to this woman of his dreams and finds out that his fantasy and her reality don’t line up. It is sort of like every internet troll who suddenly has to deal with a woman who has the nerve to be different from what he thought she should be.
I’m not usually a fan of books with unlikeable characters but it served this story well. No one is on their best behavior but characters learn when confronted with it. There is a lot packed into a novella.
- The effects of aging on women and how other people (especially other women) judge them
- Perception vs reality when dealing with strangers
- How much power over your life should you give artificial intelligence
At the end of it all I still want a generative kitchen and a chance to go on one of these sequestered juries. A few weeks at a resort with orders not to talk to anyone? Heaven.