3.5 stars: Review of WESTMORE AND MORE! by by Jud WidingSee full issue for 2017 12-25
Westmore and More! takes place in a not-so-distant and not so hard to imagine future where the social media “must-have” is a MeMore account. The MeMore, brainchild product of the corporation and now sovereign country of Westmore, uses the plethora of personal information we all so readily share online, “from purchasing history to medical records to finances to genealogical analyses” to “handle the boring parts of modern life for you.” Karen McCorkal, like almost everyone, grew up with the MeMore technology and is now a midlevel programmer for Westmore Coporation.
At least she was until her own program made her obsolete. Karen loses her now-redundant job and Westmore erases her MeMore account, which is akin to having one’s existence erased. Determined to get revenge, Karen enrolls in Westmore’s Experimental Participant Program (EPP) as a way to gain access to the facility. Once in, Karen embarks on her efforts full-force and with great success, until she discovers the deeper significance of what that means.
From here, the story takes a number of dark, surprising, and creative twists and turns. Widing’s talent for satire is clear as he takes on our penchant for new gadgets, and our carefully curated and airbrushed social media images, all wrapped up in artificial intelligence technology that increasingly and subtly works its way into our lives. The tale becomes a cautionary fable warning against humanity’s predilection for reliance on mysterious omnipotent beings. “People like believing, because they can believe whatever they want. But facts are indisputable. They’re scary. They make is feel powerless.”
Initially, the apparent author intrusion into the narrative is distracting; it tries too hard to be amusing and disrupts the flow. Stick with it, though, and the reader discovers that this isn’t the author, but another narrator–one with a unique perspective on things. Once that voice has been established, the asides become mildly entertaining and more tolerable (although the switches in points of view are still distracting). The story also suffers from uneven pacing with slow spots that drag on in an already lengthy read. That slow pacing and far, far too many typos make it difficult to really appreciate what a good story this is, or could be, with some editing. Overall, Westmore and More! is a thought-provoking and entertaining read.
Westmore and More! is an entertaining and ambitious story with plenty of dark humor. The satire bites hard and deep with some sadly accurate truths about human nature. The story could benefit from some serious editing, both copy editing for the numerous typos and to improve the uneven pacing and overall length. It’s worth a look for the creative story, especially for those who enjoy humorous sci-fi satire.
The Rating3.5 Stars (out of 5): Pretty good. For the right audience, this could be great. Sure, there were some issues, but it was still worth the read.
The Pros & ConsPros: Believable, Humor, Plot, Strong World-Building
Cons: Dialogue, Plot Sometimes Jumpy, Slow in Places, Typos