Identity Theft by Robert J. Sawyer

Read Identity Theft.

In a shameless bid for Hugo votes, Mr. Sawyer made his entire novella available for free online. On a slow Friday afternoon, with my boss out of the office, I found his blog and his story. "Ha," I thought to myself, always suspicious of authors who give their work away. "This'll be awful."

I've never been more wrong.

The good: Extremely well-plotted. The world Sawyer describes is small and closed, but internally consistent and utterly believable. The characters are believable if slightly stock. The twists of the plot kept me guessing, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is completely apt. Bravo on all points.

The bad (more about my tastes than the story): I'm so tired of the Raymond Chandler/Mickey Spillane retread -- seems like every issue of F&SF or Asimov's has at least, at least one wry, jaded and hard-boiled detective into whose office a beautiful woman swaggers. Enough already! Private detectives, yes, but maybe tweak the stereotype a little? How about a PI who's not a laconic alcoholic?

Definitely one of the better sci-fi stories I've read lately. It's far more ambitious than Czesko though not as "big" a story as Shambhala. Nicely executed, Mr. Sawyer!