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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A man who can't feel pain has been bio-engineered to be a killing machine, but he refuses to give in to his fate.
Kindle Edition, 24 pages
Published April 10th 2019 by Tor Books
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  80 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mars takes out his nanoknife, the last piece of military equipment he carries. The stray recognizes it and starts to salivate.

“I spoil you, dog.”

Mars dices up his thumb and then his index, flicking the bloody chunks to the ground. The stray pounces on each one and whines when Mars stops at the gray-white knucklebone of his middle finger.

“I give you any more, you’ll throw it all up.”

i love rich larson so damn much—he's always surprising, always a little off-genre, and there's an ease to his
Very rarely do I give such a short story 5 stars, but this was a really good one. Set somewhere in West Africa, it follows a man who cannot feel pain and has been genetically engineered to be a super soldier. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting and manages to flip quite a few tropes on their heads in a relatively short amount of time. I really liked the ending as well.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent military SF short, with a fascinating bad-ass, Jason Borne type genetically engineered mercenary in a setting somewhere deep within Western Africa. Highly recommended.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it

Mars stands in the middle of the highway, knees locked, head tipped back. The sky overhead is choked with harmattan dust. There is so much dust he can stare directly at the rising sun, a lemon-yellow smear in the dull gray. There is so much dust it looks like everything—the scraggly trees, the sandy fields, the road itself—is disappearing, as he often wishes to disappear.
Shane Hawk
A superb sci-fi short dealing with pain and belonging. This is my second Rich Larson short story after Meat Salt and Sparks which I also recommend. His imagination and writing skill leave me slightly envious but mostly awed and inspired.
The best short stories do a great job of painting a picture quickly, and this story does exactly that. It set a mood, and then gets into the story quickly.

This feels a little bit like it could be an episode of Black Mirror - a near future bit of tech gone weird, supersoldiers, and of course echoing on the child soldiers of the region.

It's written with heart and emotion, and might have caused the room to be a little dusty at the end.

May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Rich Larson has burst on to the SF scene like a supernova with a prolific series of excellent short stories. He has just started to publish novels but it is his short stories for which he is mainly known. I am reminded of the early career of Orson Scott Card.
This is an interesting story about a man who can feel no pain and can regenerate from all injuries etc. Not one of his best stories but very enjoyable nevertheless.
Zoe's Human
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
While written well enough, something felt a bit incomplete about this. I was unclear on too many details that left me wondering how things had gotten here. It feels more like a segment from the middle of a book than a complete story in and of itself. Furthermore, it added nothing to the military SF genre that hasn't been explored before.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This one was very interesting. I dug the Post-Apocalyptic Africa setting and the language is very evocative. For instance, the part at the beginning where the stray dog is described and Mars feeds it a couple of his fingers was an interesting scene.
A fun concept in a great culture and setting, but the action scenes aren't visceral and the conflict lacks stakes. If we had a better understanding of the physical toll and limits of his ability then it would build the urgency it needs to draw in the reader.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Violent, weird, great.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story is incredible. It's beautiful just the length it is, but I would also love to read more stories about Mars.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rich Larson is always worth it.
Read the story here:
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Vanessa, John, & Dad
oh i like this!
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A man is super-equipped to survive in a harsh world.
Benjamin DeHaan
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Military SF fans need to read this. So good.
Dipesh jain
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A supersoldier story with a surprising twist ending!
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've only read so far 3 short stories from Rich Larson, but I think I can tell already he is a brilliant SF writer.
Painless is an immersive story with a strong plot.
Highly recommended
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Apr 10, 2019
Chris Hyde
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May 27, 2019
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May 21, 2019
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Rich Larson was born in Galmi, Niger, has studied in Rhode Island and worked in the south of Spain, and now lives in Ottawa, Canada. Since he began writing in 2011, he’s sold over a hundred stories, the majority of them speculative fiction published in magazines like Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Lightspeed, and

His work appears in numerous Year’s Best anthologies and has been
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