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Invisible Soft Return by Roberta Degnore

Invisible Soft Return

by Roberta Degnore

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0615900551
Publisher: Digital Fabulists

In Degnore’s (Stuck Up, 2012, etc.) sci-fi novel, 33-year-old Evet is accused of murdering her beloved cat and a little girl who may be her daughter.

In a world where computer-simulated experiences called Sims are uploaded directly into one’s brain, people commonly live out their dark fantasies and forbidden urges. However, even the most banal real-world experiences are considered taboo, and murder is unheard of. After Evet is accused of such a violent crime, her friends suggest that perhaps she committed murder by mistake, confusing reality for a Sim. However, Evet is a Sim designer herself, so she’s among the few people in her society who are permitted to engage in real-world experiences. Therefore, she understands the distinction better than most—and she knows she didn’t commit the crime. However, she still grieves over the loss of her cat (who, oddly enough, was also her lover), and over the loss of a daughter she doesn’t remember having—and those memories meld into one. When law enforcement officers detain Evet and torture her by controlling her thoughts, her grip on reality further slips. The lines between individual and collective memory become blurred as she falls in and out of a series of dreams that take her to different points in history. The novel pushes even the most open-minded readers’ boundaries early on, as it opens with a shocking description of a sexual encounter between a woman and a cat. However, in this story, animals also serve as a reminder of how humanity has been lost, absorbed into simulated realities. The author forces readers to suspend their expectations about appropriate relationships and challenges them to abandon comfortably held notions of the nature of reality. This isn’t a casual read and may leave some readers behind, but it has a jarring elegance that may leave a profound impression on those willing to open themselves up to it.

A cerebral work of feminist cyberpunk literature that challenges modern concepts of gender, literacy, privacy, humanity and reality.