The Worth of Smart: True stories that might one day happen

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A young man and his friend break into his technocrat father’s robot-run home. The president enters into curious negotiations with an alien race. The drawbacks of a billionaire’s built-in computer become obvious in a crisis. An AI program is interrogated after the astronauts under its care don’t return from a mission. A man discovers the U.S.’s deadly new method for protecting the border. God enacts a tech-savvy Plan B to reboot the Earth.

The stories collected in The Worth of Smart run the gamut from funny to thoughtful, farcical to analytical, and each has something genuinely unique to offer. While many short story collections inevitably have their clunkers, there’s not a one in The Worth of Smart that I’d cut. The tongue-in-cheek style of several pieces offers a nice counterpoint to Readler’s darker fare, and the collection flows nicely between stories.

The subtitle — True stories that might one day happen — is intriguingly ballsy in its confidence, a quality many of the stories share. (Though, admittedly, I wish a different story was chosen as the headliner, as The Worth of Smart is a clumsy title.)

If Readler has a flaw, it’s that he burns through good ideas too fast. I found myself wishing each story was longer, allowing me to spend a little more time in that world.

That said, several of the stories are flat-out terrific. Exposure and The Full Story are two unnerving examinations of the intersection of science and politics, and the often harsh consequences involved. On the flip side, The Shoes of Moses — the only story the subtitle doesn’t really fit — is a quick and enjoyable alternate look at the trials and tribulations of being a miracle worker.

With interesting hooks, solid execution, and terrific energy behind each tale, The Worth of Smart is a good time.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 224 pages
Publisher Full Arc Press
Publish Date 29-Oct-2010
ISBN 9780615400389 Buy this Book
Issue August 2011
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy


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