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A young woman wakes up to find herself an unwilling contestant – but in what?
Joan De La Haye’s new “action-adventure Science Fiction novelette” is a departure from the horror tales for which she is perhaps primarily known, but, as she showed with her contribution to Solaris’ alt-Sherlock Holmes tales, her strengths are in descriptive writing and character building, and those are key no matter what the genre you’re writing in.
There’s a definite Hunger Games vibe to this short story – which I hope is the first in a series, particularly given the possibilities inherent in the ending – but it’s not someone from a far future dystopia who’s stuck playing the game: it’s a woman taken from the streets of contemporary South Africa, with the attendant pop culture references… and lack of willingness to take shit. On more than one occasion, De La Haye sidesteps some of the anticipated tropes, which gives the tale more unpredictability than you might initially expect. The denouement similarly doesn’t go quite as you might think, but does feel a little rushed – some big ideas are thrown up, and a bit more space to consider them might have given the final part a bit more weight – but that’s a minor quibble set against the rest of this well-written piece.
Verdict: A fast paced tale with a sassy central character. 8/10