A transgender salvager on the outskirts of Utah gets the chance to earn the ultimate score and maybe even a dash of romance. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch…
Valentine Weis is a salvager in the future wastelands of Utah. Wrestling with body dysphoria, he dreams of earning enough money to afford citizenship in Salt Lake City - a utopia where the testosterone and surgery he needs to transition is free, the food is plentiful, and folk are much less likely to be shot full of arrows by salt pirates. But earning that kind of money is a pipe dream, until he meets the exceptionally handsome Osric.
Once a powerful AI in Salt Lake City, Osric has been forced into an android body against his will and sent into the wasteland to offer Valentine a job on behalf of his new employer - an escort service seeking to retrieve their stolen androids. The reward is a visa into the city, and a chance at the life Valentine's always dreamed of. But as they attempt to recover the "merchandise", they encounter a problem: the android ladies are becoming self-aware, and have no interest in returning to their old lives.
The prize is tempting, but carrying out the job would go against everything Valentine stands for, and would threaten the fragile found family that's kept him alive so far. He'll need to decide whether to risk his own dream in order to give the AI a chance to live theirs.
World Running Down by Al Hess
Imprint: Angry Robot
'Spunky, scrappy, and earnest, the heroes—both human and AI—of Hess’s wildly entertaining latest make pitch-perfect guides through a dystopian near-future… Hess uses android bodies to offer additional insight into the trans experience, focusing on issues of autonomy and self-discovery… A rip-roaring adventure plot helmed by characters whose vitality and hope one can’t help but root for. Fans of speculative fiction and inventive queer stories will delight in this playful and lovingly crafted romp.' – Publishers Weekly
'A piercing mix of relevant social commentary braided into a riveting scifi adventure.' – Sunyi Dean, author of The Book Eaters
'Hess’s story asks big questions about selfhood, identity and consciousness with sweetness and verve and a big dollop of queer love. A rousing and touching read.' – Khan Wong, author of The Circus Infinite