Represented by the six of hearts, this was story #10 in my 2014 Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge. I own this story as part of an electronic copy of the anthology “Dark Futures: Tales of Dystopian Sci-Fi” which is lending a few stories to my annual project.
: operated by the pressure of a fluid
: occurring or used in a hydraulic system
1 : operated, moved, or effected by means of water
2 a : of or relating to hydraulics
b : of or relating to water or other liquid in motion
3 : operated by the resistance offered or the pressure transmitted when a quantity of liquid (as water or oil) is forced through a comparatively small orifice or through a tube
4 : hardening or setting under water
I’m sure I’ve written before about how I enjoy stories that have a cryptic title. Perhaps it was the title “Hydraulic” (what could THAT be about?) that led me to add this story to my roster for my 2014 Deal Me In challenge. I don’t remember now. Anyway, I’m still not 100% sure what the story title means. The setting, I can tell you, is a future dystopian America. One that has become isolationist, where Congress voted in 2012 to “sever all ties with the rest of the world,” and where “government crop dusters” herd clouds and citizens use velorickshaws to get around. It’s raining almost constantly too, and domestic cats are beginning to turn green from an algae that has taken up residence in their fur. Perhaps this last element felt the most dystopian of all for many readers…
The protagonist of the story, Lewis, is a detective on the trail of Jack Elsinger, suspected of “illegal battery charging and possibly worse.” In this dystopian future, energy is at a premium and the country had “switched to a rain powered economy” in 2017. (See? Here we’re getting closer to the title of the story) During his surveillance (aided by “spidercams” of course) Lewis is surprised by recognizing the woman Elsinger is dating as none other than Callie Swainson, a fading star of the world of interactive computer/video gaming.
It is Lewis’s reaction to seeing and meeting Callie, this person “he knows but doesn’t know,” that made this story interesting to me. It certainly wasn’t a happy story, but I liked it.
I do not believe the story is available for free online anywhere, but the kindle version of the entire collection mentioned above is only $4.99. http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Futures-Tales-Dystopian-SF/dp/0982619723
What did you read this week? Any new good short story discoveries?
My own personal first experience with hydraulics was when I was (I think) eleven and my family bought some hydraulic jacks – similar to the one pictured below – for use on an extended summer camping trip. What an amazing, magical technology this seemed to me to be! Lifting the great weight of our pop-up camper so easily. 🙂