Previously produced solely as an audiobook, this noir novella—now available as an illustrated text—offers a unique wrinkle on a popular science-fiction trope.
About 10 years ago, a strange thing happened to the world: almost any time people were murdered, they began showing up naked in their homes, their bodies reset to a state a few hours before any injury occurred. Today, we have Dispatchers: professionals licensed to painlessly kill people dying from botched operations, car accidents, and the like, eliminating the negative consequences as if they had never been. When Dispatcher Jimmy Albert vanishes under suspicious circumstances, Chicago Police Detective Nona Langdon calls upon fellow Dispatcher (and our narrator) Tony Valdez to help her pursue the case, which ultimately leads to a wealthy, well-connected man devastated by his wife’s recent death from cancer. Along the way, Valdez reluctantly educates the detective about the seamy side of his profession: the less-than-legal, often grotesque, and extremely lucrative freelance work he’s accepted in the past as well as the potential loopholes in the apparent near impossibility of murder. The resurrected dead has been a popular motif in the past few years, in both grisly and more literary explorations. Scalzi (The Collapsing Empire, 2017, etc.) pushes the potential of this admittedly contrived scenario to its logical limits with dark humor while hanging a lampshade on several noir clichés.
A what-if tale reminiscent of Asimov at his twistiest.