Uh...well this is awkward. I've been waiting to post this review of Terraform SF's March offerings because...well, I was hoping there was going to be more than one. Especially after last month's amazing array of stories I was quite looking forward to seeing what was next, but it seems like output has been slightly down. But hey, a story's a story and this one is certainly rather entertaining and fun and well conceived and executed. And hopefully next month there will be more to look. To the review!
"The Code Academy" by Jason Koebler (3124 words)
This is a rather cute story about a programmer who specializes in small time cloning of popular apps in order to make a buck and hopefully attract the attention of a big company. When he does, when Apple comes calling with a special project for him, he jumps at the opportunity. Only...well, things aren't exactly as they seem and the story does a nice job of building up Alan and his slow descent. The way that the work eats away at him, the claustrophobic and paranoid air of the project and the need for an escape, any sort of escape. [AND SPOILERS SO BE WARNED] Where the story goes is a pretty neat little closed loop of nightmares, the twist and the punch coming in a rather classic style as Alan fails to realize what has become obvious to the reader, that he's trapped and being kept in a situation that's rather terrifying in how it works and how effective it is. And the story works rather well for that. It's clever and the situation is well rendered, the implications strong and Alan just the sort of person who seems like they would fall for something like it. The main leap for me that was just a bit too far is that things seem like they would change in a year, and especially over many. After a certain point I'd figure the nightmare scenario just wouldn't work. It's classic enough that it doesn't need to make perfect sense, though, updated for a new situation with a lot of names dropped. It's fun and it's well paced and it's certainly worth checking out.