Book Review

Book Review: Runtime

By S.B. Divya

My Edition:
Paperback, 116 pages
2016, Tor
ISBN: 9780765389794

Marmeg has cobbled her racing gear together from scavenged parts, most of which were broken and she repaired. Despite her lack of sponsors and support team, she aims to race in the Minerva Sierra Challenge – a grueling outdoor race for thrill-seekers with augmented bodies, most of whom have top of the line gear. Marmeg’s gear might be outclassed, but she’s determined to place, as the funds she wins will be life-changing, and she’ll risk anything to get them.

Another awesome (but too short!) novella courtesy of Tor! I’m hoping to see some full-length fiction from Divya, especially more in Marmeg’s world.

I found this at a closing sale (sigh) at a local indie store – it was sci-fi and on sale for a few bucks, so I added it to my pile. I’m sorry I neglected it so long, because it was a breeze to read and very engaging.

Marmeg (Mary Margaret) lives with mother and siblings, most of whom have different fathers. The family struggles to support themselves and Marmeg has been working on her gear with the goal of winning big in a race to not only get out of her family home, but to help support them as well.

Divya created a future that felt realistic, though the novella doesn’t go into extensive detail when it comes to world building. Body modifications involving computer chips are fairly common – Marmeg has been able to afford arm, leg and neck implants thanks to some money she’s made writing code she taught herself. With a knack for coding she’s able to customize her…software, I suppose you could say, and get more out of her performance.

I never know what to say about stories when they’re so short. I don’t want to describe the whole thing! But I liked the level of technology Divya described. People have body mods and tech we don’t currently (at least, that I know of) have available, yet they still drive cars and cook their own food. This future felt approachable and believable, you know? Versus something with interplanetary travel and colonization and sentient AI, etc.

Marmeg is determined and technology savvy. She’s a woman of few words though; she comes off gruff and uses slang that shortens her words and sentences. She’s also stubborn, which is both an advantage and disadvantage throughout the story. Her relationship with her mother is strained and complex. I greatly enjoyed this sort of futuristic Amazing Race scenario and really wished the book were longer. Yes, probably I will say that about every novella I love. Probably I will also continue to gripe about the prices of novellas. But anyway!

I’ll definitely buy more of Divya’s work in the future!

I think you should check this out if you:

+ Are looking for a quick read by an own voices author
+ Like sci-fi focused on the use of gear and body mods

Divya’s website (she’s got a great domain name!)

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