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S.B. Divya., $10.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8979-4

In this fast-paced thriller set in a futuristic California, a cybernetically augmented young woman participates in a grueling outdoor competition in order to achieve financial freedom and follow her dreams. For Mary Margaret “Marmeg” Guinto, winning the Minerva Sierra Challenge is the only way she can afford to defy her old-fashioned mother’s wishes and get the education she wants, rather than ending up working in a nursing home. As Marmeg battles the unforgiving elements, mountainous terrain, and unexpected sabotage, a chance encounter in the wilderness forces her to make several moral choices that could grant her the victory, but at a high cost. Debut author Divya packs a lot into this novella, leaving the reader wanting more from this complicated, provocative world; the author sets up many interesting social, gender, and technological issues but doesn’t have room to really get into them. The whole idea of becoming “moot”—an androgynous state achieved through elective surgery, to which Marmeg aspires—could stand much more exploration, as could the way in which American citizens must be licensed to receive social services. There’s enough here to justify a much longer story; in its current form, it doesn’t quite go far enough. (May)