Tolliver is caught in a cycle of boredom she desperately wants to escape. She hates her job writing silly slogans, doesn't have any friends, and lives in a crowded city full of mindless androids.
When she stumbles on a mysterious classifieds message specifically targeted at her, Tolliver decides to leave her claustrophobic unit and finds herself in an unexpected adventure. A seemingly simple task leads her to a conspiracy theory that will put her life in danger, introduce her to a lot of potential friends, and some hard truths that circle back to her...
Demain Publishing’s new series - Weird! Wonderful! Other Worlds! – has brought out their second book: The Wired City by Yolanda Sfetsos. Imagine BLADE RUNNER meets I, ROBOT…but without any humans.
Tolliver (Tolli to her non-existent friends) is just another android in a city full of mindless androids – and she hates writing silly slogans when she wants to be a journalist. A secret message gets her out of her claustrophobic unit and sends her on an adventure, full of danger and hard truths about the life she thought she knew.
The writing in the story was good and the story moved at a fast pace. However, I think the author missed a trick here which could have improved the story line. While it is not easy to make people care about androids rather than living beings, there needs to be some kind of connection. Case in point: Take the 2005 animated movie ROBOTS. Halfway through the movie nobody saw the characters as robots anymore – they were sentient beings who had to fight for their lives against the big, evil corporation.
While this story had all the right elements, being constantly reminded that the characters are not human made me detach. So much so, I cared more about the cat than Tolliver. Maybe I am being overly critical, since I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, but the experience made me feel like it could have been more.
I will say this, however – this author does have some skills and needs to be watched in the future.
** Edited as review is now live on Kendall Reviews! **
Over the last number of years, I’ve quickly become a fan of Sfetsos’ writing.
Yolanda has put out two previous Demain releases (this being number three) and her short fiction has appeared in a number of outstanding anthologies.
I’ll admit, with this one, I wasn’t sure about what I’d be diving into. I’m very light on reading experience with anything framed as CyberPunk, so I was intrigued to discover just what that sub-genre entails. Knowing it was Yolanda’s creation, I was confident that I’d be in for a treat.
What I liked: The story here is very ‘Blade Runner’-esque. Tolliver is an android-type creation who writes marketing lines to appear on Billboards. This is set well into the future, one where humans have fled the surface to live below ground. On one occasion, while Tolliver is visiting a subsection of the online world, they come across a message just for them. One requesting their help.
From here, Sfetsos crafts a fantastic thriller that had depth, layers and stunning settings. Each twist and turn that came really elevated the world and the characters and the emotions that Yolanda created in this was top notch. I loved seeing how Tolliver’s memories started to come back and how different characters met along the way played a significant role in them ultimately working towards reaching their end goal.
This was sci-fi done at a masterful level. At one point I’d tweeted that this was the best thing Yolanda had ever written (at least from what I’ve read) but this deserves to be considered alongside some of the classics. I’d easily compare this to a Philip K. Dick release.
What I didn’t like: To stay spoiler-free, there’s a section where Tolliver meets a cat character in here and I wasn’t really too sure about what the cat was/who they were/how it was working. It was minor but it just irked me! Haha!
Why you should buy this: Yolanda has truly created a stunning masterpiece here. I can’t speak to how it would hold up to CyberPunk rules etc, but what she’s delivered here was truly amazing and I galloped through this. Sfetsos has found another gear with this release. Maybe it’s the genre? Or maybe it’s just another great writer making another step up in their craft. Either way, this one blew me away and I’ve added it already to my list of potential books of the year.
Been really enjoying short stories this last wee while, so I decided to pick up THE WIRED CITY by Yolanda Sftesos seeing as it was only 67 pages long. Perfect to blast through in one sitting, I thought. And it was. Yolanda has created such a beautiful and imaginative little world here that somehow makes the story feel bigger than it actually is. With spot on pacing, and a wonderful natural flow, this was a pure joy to read. Absolutely loved it. I don't normally read sci-fi either, but I do trust Yolanda's writing. Go on, lose yourself for a little while. Five stars deserved.
A fast-paced, cyberpunk yarn featuring a cast of whimsical characters and bristling with invention and humour. The narrative has a beautifully realised, surreal element to it, making this tale of one android's quest to rescue and return a child to its human mother a complete delight to read.
Despite this being a genre I don't dip into often, this was a joy - I devoured it. The scene-setting throughout this story is grand, and within a handful of pages the odds are stacked and the mystery is set into motion. The world isn't dumped on the reader in hefty monologues. It's clear, explained, but suitably gradual, and that's something I appreciate with work like this.
The tension of the plot is sustained right until the end but is by no means rushed. The writing style itself was spot on for the genre, too. And as I mentioned with scene-setting, there were so many moments in this that really came to life, whether it be aspects of the city itself or the general atmosphere - I really did feel like I was watching a film sometimes, or a cinematic cutscene.
Sure, I did have a few nitpicks. I'm still not entirely sure what the cat's real purpose was (not that I didn't love the kitty, mind you). And I would've liked to have seen a little more exploration of the concept of humanity. And much as I enjoyed the journey, I did find myself lacking in investment for the characters sometimes because they felt invincible, so the little nudges we were given towards bridging this gap near the end fell a little flat. I think I was just yearning for a little more engagement with the cast. But it wasn't anything too painful. Still a great read.
Overall, I absolutely recommend you pick this up. The concept is nifty and beautifully executed.
This is a really fun sci-fin adventure with twists and turns and an interesting setting. Following a sentient android whose memory appears to have been wiped, the story follows Tolli’s attempts to find a missing girl, all while navigating the official authorities and the underground authorities in The Wired City.
I think there’s a Phillip K. Dick influence to this novella, its aesthetics of a futuristic but rundown city giving a noir-ish vibe.
It’s a short novella, but has lots of action packed in to keep the pages ticking over.