My Year of Short Stories: Dec 23rd, Confessions of A Con Girl by Nick Wolven, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017

Nick Wolven is swiftly becoming one of my favorite short story writers in the SF and fantasy field. He has a keen eye for the oddities of human interactions and preconceived notions which he applies to social technologies. In this story, Wolven takes the scores we give each other in social media and amplifies it to an extreme. In Confessions of A Con Girl, every person has a Pro/Con score and can give other people a Pro or Con vote anytime anywhere. Someone with a good score has more influence on peoples’ scores when they vote. Someone who is a deep green who gives a deep red person a pro vote will dramatically improve the red person’s score, a person with a deep red score has very little power to change someone else’s score with a pro vote.

Sophie, a former student at an unnamed academic institution, befriends a young man who happens to be a sexual predator (though she doesn’t figure this out until later, though it’s clear he doesn’t get social queues). She also says uncomfortable things around the wrong people. She says what she means. She’s honest. When she’s honest with a deep green senior student, the student gives her a giant con score and things just get worse from there.

It’s basically the proposed Peeble app that John Oliver did a segment on some years back. Just click here to see the clip.

This story is an intriguing, yet frustrating look at social media run amuck. People who read The Circle by Dave Eggers and enjoyed that near future social network situation would likely enjoy this story–as it’s like The Circle universe, but 20 years after the book has ended. (B+)

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