Hugo Novelette Review: “And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander

written by David Steffen

“And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the novelette category this year.   It was published by Lightspeed, and you can read it here in its entirety or listen to it in audio.

Rhye is a cyborg freelancer working with her partner Rack on whatever jobs they can find that suit their skills.  Rack specializes in cyberspace hack-jobs, diving into corporate networks to liberate valuable data.  Rhye’s specialty is more on the physical side of things; she is a killing machine with her pistols.

The pair are hired to rescue the son of a mob boss where he’s gotten lost trying to dig information out of a security system. The job goes south in a big way when the mobsters get frustrated at lack of results and shoot Rack through the head before his mind returns from the system.  But… he is still in the system, and it’s possible that Rhye might be able to dive in after him and bring him back intact (though without a body to occupy).  The mobsters are going to let her do this, intending to get the data they’d been seeking in the first place.

I enjoyed this story.  An action-packed cyberpunk rescue attempt into dangerous territory.  If you are averse to profanity you’ll probably want to give this one a pass–Rhye is very foul-mouthed, dropping f-bombs all over the story.  I found the profanity rather fun, myself.  It was part of her character, part of the way she is and cutting it out would’ve made her very different.  A badass character to root for, nasty villains to root against, the weird subtextual world of cyberspace, satisfying ending.

Published by

David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work (including response time statistics). Most of the articles here at Diabolical Plots are written by David (unless otherwise noted) and he is the editor that makes the final choices for the fiction selections. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on Twitter for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

3 thoughts on “Hugo Novelette Review: “And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander”

  1. Thanks for the info Lewis and L L ! I read the worry about bootlegging on Vans Fb page posted by some fans.i guess I’d better get my copies.and Lewis if you come back here are you on FB.? I remember all the great chats we had on michael fairmans blog.

  2. , short barreled rifles are too much noise and too much flash. Gunpowder wasted on pyrotechnics.Why don't they make lower powered loads that'd completely burn up in the shorter barrels for the various smaller 5,56 guns?

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