royalty-free-writing-clipart-illustration-1146779 RSR rating: hard SF, 5 stars, award-worthy, published in Clarkesworld

This is one for sports fans. The narrator is an agent looking to sign young Oxford Diallo to a basketball contract. The boy and his dad are in Seattle from Senegal, and the kid is really talented. However, once the offer is made, they balk at the requirement for a nerve mesh that will transmit the player’s experience to the audience. Of course, this won’t work—the mesh is how the players are marketed. The agent’s boss gets after him, and he makes up a plan to get the kid away from his dad and talk him into it.

This is another sentimental story, but it’s got a hard edge, so I’ll agree with the 5 star rating. I agree that it’s hard SF, too. There’s no clanking hardware, but the mesh and the marketing are so near future that it’s scary. The story also suggests what else could be done with it. In spite of the number of stars, I’m not sure this one would really fly for an award nomination. I may be wrong, but I think the strong sports slant will leave part of the audience cold.

One great thing about this story is that we have very few actual details about how the nerve mesh works and what it could be used for. That means there’s nothing for me to pick apart as far as the science goes. It’s a slight projection into the future and might easily be accurate. Social commentary, too. Hm. Creepy.