Story of the Week: "No Rez" by Jeff Noon

Last week I praised Priya Sharma's short story "Blonde" from Interzone's Sept./Oct. 2015 issue. Well, Interzone must be on a roll because the same issue contains another of the year's best stories, "No Rez" by Jeff Noon.

The rez in the title refers to resolution, as in the number of pixels available for seeing in this futuristic world. Thanks to artificially enhanced eyes humanity can access not only our own limited field of vision but also the countless cameras and devices recording everything in life. This creates an overwhelming range of what you can see, a high-rez view of the world which both overwhelms and subsumes what it means to be human.

The main character in "No Rez" is Aiden, who earns his living bicycling around the city uploading what he sees to the world's ever-flowing net of life. His dream is to actually see in "high rez," a dream impossibly out of reach for poor people like him whose eyes see only low resolution views of reality.

"No Rez" is frakin brilliant. This is what science fiction short stories should be. The closest I can come to describing this story is to say it combines the narrative urgency of Samuel R. Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah..." with the all-encompassing world creation of William Gibson's Neuromancer. But "No Rez" is also totally different than these examples, a story like no other. "No Rez" is a primal scream of a story swallowing the reasoned insanity of today's ever connected world.

Unfortunately, I fear few people will read "No Rez." The story is told in a unique stream of consciousness style which will turn off many readers, not the least among them the editors of the year's best anthologies and some of the people who vote on the various genre awards. If the story is reprinted in any of these anthologies or makes the award shortlists it will be a miracle. But that doesn't change the fact that "No Rez" is a SF story you should immediately seek out and read.

The new issue of Interzone proves that the British magazine remains on the cutting edge of SF/F short fiction. Seek out this issue today. You can purchase it through Amazon for their Kindle or through Weightless for other ebook formats. Print issues are also available in the UK and, in the near future, should be in select US bookstores.