In Earle’s The Thirteenth Prophet
, fashion trends extend to implanted personality traits. The world is obsessed with the next upgrade, the next mix of Control and Desire traits to send them to the top of their careers or a bit of Bliss and Satisfaction to just enjoy it all- denying themselves the hardships of creating their own personalities for the easiness of uploading the fictional ones. Society is shutting down without anyone noticing- there’s no political rallies and no one even thinks to vote anymore.
Mulligan Burke is one of the few who sees the flaws in the system and wonders if the Prophets are really willing to split their souls to create the millions of upgrades people are so desperate for. When one of the twelve Prophets die, Burke is hired as a P.I. to determine who killed Defiance.“I am made of so much more than this flesh, this body of mine. But I’m slowing, I’m old, and I’m so much less than I used to be.”
I am so in love with this short story. I just really wish Earle would have used “Who killed Defiance?” as a tag line for the story, because that’s basically the issue of the story in a very political aspect. In a society that follows the latest trends, goes with the flow, Who Killed Defiance? I’m not going too far into that aspect of the story, though, and let the readers decide for themselves.
The characters are great, even Defiance whom you don’t actually get to see in the story still has such a strong presence I can still create a picture of the character. Mulligan Burke, of course, is the main character. He’s a old-fashioned, hard-boiled, noir-worthy detective. Burke is a refreshing character to the story. He’s not ignorant to the technology at hand, he simply refuses to use it.
Overall, The Thirteenth Prophet is a page-turning short story that I would recommend to anyone fond of futuristic science-fiction and mystery.