The first book for my 2018 Asexual Reading list was Hello World (Science Fiction 185 pages) by Tiffany Rose and Alexandra Tauber.
“In a world where a technology company can buy your personal freedom, Scott is a hacker ready to prove that a single voice can be a powerful weapon. Scott’s skills as a surveillance expert are useful when he’s breaking down firewalls. But hacktivism isn’t enough; he’s going after the holy grail: UltSyn’s Human Information Drives, human assets implanted with cerebral microchips. After digging deeper into restricted databases, he discovers that those who enlist with UltSyn get far more than they bargained for. Plunged into a world of human trafficking and corporate espionage, Scott is determined to find his sister, no matter the cost. But when the information he uncovers reveals the people closest to him have been working for UltSyn all along, he has to find her before UltSyn finds him.”
I found a lot of very relatable content in this book, especially when Scott is interacted with the other people in his peer group or his social circles. The part where his other hacker associates are discussing how they’d never been able to find where Scott hid his porn amused me because it was clear to me that Scott didn’t have any porn. This might seem odd to many people but being asexual means that you don’t experience sexual attraction. Obviously, it’s different for everyone and some asexuals have a significant sex drive, even though they don’t experience the attraction. Some asexuals are sex-repulsed, and some only develop the ability to participate in sexual acts with those whom they have developed strong emotional attachments. Still, his lack of porn and his absolute disinterest really resonated with me, as I am cut from a similar cloth.
The concept of this story is very intriguing, especially with the way corporations and technology are both progressing in our modern society. The society presented is not specified as to the timing, but it seems like it could be very near future, which is also interesting to me. As our own society continues to move along the path where humans are just pieces of equipment, the treatment of the people who function as living hard drives is similar to those of all marginalized people throughout all of history; they’re treated as things or as tools and not as people. That’s what makes the concept of the future presented in this novel so uncomfortable – it’s realistic for the very near future.
I spent a lot of time while reading this novel wondering if the roles could have been reversed to highlight an amazing hacker woman who steals a human man while looking for her brother. I know there’s a lot of discussion these days about how women aren’t as heavily represented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields and I wondered if doing a role reversal like that would have allowed for the same customer base and potentially alienated all those readers who still think STEM fields are for men. At the same time, though, I have to wonder if the story might have resonated more with me if Sonia had been that fantastic hacker and Scott had been the human package.
Overall, I’d say this book is a low three on my rating scale. While the concept was interesting and the characters had relatable moments, I was frustrated that the first Ace book I read for 2018 included a main character who was Ace but wound up in a heterosexual relationship where they had sex. I do have to add the disclaimer that just because the main character is asexual and had sex does not make him less of an asexual. This may not seem like a big deal, but I’m searching more and more for situations and characters I can truly relate to, and one of the things I’d really like to see is a relationship that is still strong but doesn’t involve sex. I also understand that authors have to tell the story true to them and that no one can please everyone. This book is a solid read if you enjoy technology and espionage.
Rose, Tiffany and Tauber, Alexandra. Hello World. Unknown: Pandamoon Publishing, 2017.