Arc City Stories is a collection of cyberpunk stories by both prominent and upcoming authors within the genre. Patrick Tillett, a cross-genre speculative author, contributes an intriguing tale to this anthology titled Neo(n) Bushido.
The story begins with Hiro meditating in the city until he’s interrupted by a young girl at his door, Levy. The girl’s a human trafficking victim who is seeking shelter and safe passage as she’s hunted by an android. Hiro, having a dark past he’s trying to repent for, agrees to assist her. Meanwhile, he’s haunted by his past with recurring visions,
Raven hair against the neon light. Cold steel warmed by fresh blood. Children's laughter, and children who would laugh no more. A lonely warrior, wizened by sin.
Hiro and Levy attempt to leave for the outskirts of the city, eluding pursuers, while Hiro’s former employer hunts her down as an asset. The writing is high quality and concise, with good descriptions,
Night had fallen, and Arc had come alive with a million neon lights. It made rainbows of every single raindrop as they crashed on Hiro's face, now devoid of tears.
Neo(n) Bushido is part of a spectacular collection of cyberpunk stories. Overall, the story reminds me of the movie The Professional, but with cyborgs and Japanese sword fights. While it’s stylish on the surface, this very dark story offers a deeper commentary on how our humanity wears thin over time when we are forced to follow the unethical orders of our employers. But no matter how far we sink, we are all redeemable if we are willing to sacrifice for others.
It’s also a tale about how having a tragic youth forces people to grow up too fast, and how far people are willing to go to maintain their freedom, even if it means biting off one’s own leg to avoid being trapped. It's ultimately about how vehemently humanity refuses to be commodified. Wonderful work! Pick up the collection on Amazon.