mikeThis novelette was published in Asimov’s. Near future, mundane SF.

Luce, Silva and Jacky are a dying breed, an independent band that’s not signed to StageHolo. That means they’re broke and living in a 23-year-old diesel van they run on vegetable oil. They beg for oil and dumpster dive for food, drive cross-country to gigs booked in dumps of independent clubs. The gigs are still rewarding, and they’re recognized by both older and young fans. They play a gig in Columbus, Ohio, where Luce is approached by a StageHolo rep, but she angrily refuses to sign. The band is invited by a group of bike kids to spend the night at an abandoned barracks. When they wake up in the morning, someone has stolen their van with most of the equipment and swag. What should they do?

This feels like a nostalgia piece. StageHolo could very well be a stand in for Netflix, iTunes or MTV, and Luce is a Luddite about technology. She doesn’t have a cell phone, a self-driving vehicle or Google maps. She’s concerned about music being an authentic experience where she is actually in contact with fans. She views a contract with StageHolo as selling out to commercial interests. Unfortunately, I think this question was answered back in the 1980s or 1990s.

Well written with good theme, characterization, imagery, LGBTQ diversity. There’s not enough science or technology to pick at it. Average story—3 stars.