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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Trouble And Her Friends

Copyright 1994 by Melissa Scott

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Awful (1/5)

I first read this on the 18th August 2006.

Trouble used to be a computer hacker, and that's a tough and precarious profession, yet she excelled at it. Trouble had a formidable reputation and no one dared to cross her. Then the Government declared hacking to be illegal, criminalising that whole section of society. Trouble retired and dropped out of sight.

Now someone is operating under her old handle. That would be insult enough but this impostor has used her name to commit serious crimes. That's abusing her name and blackening her reputation. That is showing dangerous disrespect and further more it is making life remarkably inconvenient.

Trouble will be forced to reappear. Then Trouble and her friends will hunt down, find and stop this rash impostor.

Disappointing, very disappointing, and from the author of the incomparably good "Five Twelfths Of Heaven". I alternated between boredom and annoyance. There were just so many parts of this novel that rang false.

  • She fails to make enough of the problems that NewTrouble has caused making the Trouble's fight for justice largely pointless
  • Trouble is away for only three years. Ten years I could understand, even twenty years, would account for the career changes people went through and indeed the physical changes that Cerise and Trouble notice. But three years is a sabbatical. It's just going to college. It's only a long time if you're seventeen.
  • She fails to make the net metaphor convincing - partly that's just wrong predictions, missing out riding on the cyberpunk wave.

Having said that, I admit I had a bit of trouble remembering the state of the computing back in the early '90s. Windows 3.0 was released in 1990, running on top of DOS. Your PC would have been an 32bit (yes, Intel was stuck on those for a few years) 80386 running at 33Mhz with 4MB RAM and 80MB hard disk. Yes, a modern PC is at least 1000x better on each of those specifications. We didn't even have the public Internet. Compuserve was out there providing a commercial forerunner, and there were Bulletin Boards all over the place but the web was all but unknown. Of course, you had mainframes and superminis, God bless 'em, but those beauties are probably not relevant.

Overall view: Deeply disappointing, too long but even with that I felt there were chunks of it omitted.

Loaded on the 25th January 2007.
Cover of Trouble And Her Friends
Cover art by Nicholas Jainschigg

Reviews of other works by Melissa Scott:
Five Twelfths Of Heaven
The Empress Of Earth
The Kindly Ones