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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Identity Theft" by Robert J. Sawyer

Printed and reprinted by Mike Resnick, it was up for the Hugo, Nebula, Aurora Awards, and won the UPC Award.

Alex Lomax is a hard-boiled detective on Mars. Cassandra Wilkins, jaw-dropping beauty and transfer, steps into his office and asks Alex to investigate the disappearance of her husband, Joshua, who's also a transfer. Due to confidentiality, an investigator can't simply log into people's brains and ID them. The police haven't been helpful, but that's kept him in business. Barely.

Alex finds Joshua rather simply, next to a suicide note and a jack hammer, but the mystery doesn't end there. It's just getting started.

Meanwhile, Lomax picks up a second client to do the job his first client wanted but for a different reason: He fears he's been bootlegged.


Reading Red Planet Blues, I thought it familiar. And, lo, the ebook image said it incorporated "Identity Theft" in it. I checked out the blog and missed putting up commentary here though I was certain I had.

The mystery is well constructed. Sawyer lays the groundwork from the start, so it's worth the reread just for that. It's a little gem worth excavating, but if you're going to read the novel, anyway, the differences are minute. It does work better as a story. Nonetheless, if you're interested in both, you may need to read them separately as the payoffs differ. Maybe you could get by with reading the opening and closing of the story.

The focus of the tale shifts from the novel. Identity is a central theme here: What is it? How are we shaped by it? Do we drop tells of our identity? Sawyer suggests, yes to the last question, or he wouldn't have had much of a story.

The idea of transfer is not completely exhausted here, and it is explored more in the novel. Even then, the idea has more life in it yet.

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