QSFer Aubrey Wood has a new queer cyberpunk book out (ace, bi, gay, gender fluid, lesbian, non-binary, poly, trans): Bang Bang Bodhisattva.
Someone wants trans girl hacker-for-hire Kiera Umehara in prison or dead—but for what? Failing to fix their smart toilet?
It’s 2032 and we live in the worst cyberpunk future. Kiera is gigging her ass off to keep the lights on, but her polycule’s social score is so dismal they’re about to lose their crib. That’s why she’s out here chasing cheaters with Angel Herrera, a luddite P.I. who thinks this is The Big Sleep. Then the latest job cuts too deep—hired to locate Herrera’s ex-best friend (who’s also Kiera’s pro bono attorney), they find him murdered instead. Their only lead: a stick of Nag Champa incense dropped at the scene.
Next thing Kiera knows, her new crush turns up missing—sans a hand (the real one, not the cybernetic), and there’s the familiar stink of sandalwood across the apartment. Two crimes, two sticks of incense, Kiera framed for both. She told Herrera to lose her number, but now the old man might be her only way out of this bullshit…
A fast-talker with a heart of gold, Bang Bang Bodhisattva is both an odd-couple buddy comedy that never knows when to shut up, and an exploration of finding yourself and your people in an ever-mutable world.
Warnings: Self-harm, drug use.
The big idiot’s robot fist plowed into Kiera’s face like a bullet train splattering a little baby bunny. As evenings go, this was a net loss.
Kiera spun out and hit carpet. A moment later Herrera dropped down next to her. Their eyes met. Herrera brushed his perfect nose with his fingertips.
“Hey, kid, you’ve got a little’…”
Kiera touched her face. Nose blood poured down her front. She gurgled, “Th-thanks.”
The goon grabbed her by the collar—this was the big Black goon in the black suit, the other one was a white guy and wore a white suit; they looked like opposing chess pieces or ice cream bars—and she had a moment to blearily admire his hands. Slick black shells with leafy gold filigree and soft rubber fingertips. Nice prosthetics, Kiera thought in a fog. They look expensive.
The lummox with the nice hands hurled Kiera through a doorway, and she tumbled across a tacky rug into a room with some outdated monitors and a big safe. Herrera, courtesy of the white goon, followed promptly.
“Mr. Carson says you’re not allowed in his clubs anymore, Herrera,” said the white one. The Black one shut the door.
“Hey, stupid,” Herrera wheezed, rolling to face Kiera. “Remember that thing I gave you?”
She groaned, “Uhh. Uh-huh.”
“Take it out and push the red button.”
The white goon knelt down and, with cyber-hands the color of fine white chocolate, started punching the shit out of poor Herrera, who grunted and howled like—Kiera hated that she was reminded of this—someone bottoming for the first time. The other big boy was coming for her.
Kiera dug into the front of her underwear, where she’d stashed the little gray device so it would just look like her dick bulge when the bouncers checked her for weapons. She pulled it out, thrust it up in the air, and pushed a perfectly thumb-sized red button on the side.
The world burned to white. Something shrieked in Kiera’s ears and she yelped, surprised and horrified.
She dropped the little thing. She blinked floaters out of her vision, and her smart-ear buzzed like old-school dial-up. When she could make things out again, the Black goon was rotating his fingers in his ears. The white one had flipped out his dark lenses and was furiously massaging his eyes.
Herrera, the only one who’d been prepared for the flashbang, was already up and snatching a good ol’ aluminum baseball bat, handily stashed on top of a file cabinet—if Kiera hadn’t just pushed that button, the big boys had probably been getting ready to swipe right on her kneecaps with that thing. Herrera beaned the white guy on the dome like he was going for a goddamn carnival prize, and then the Black one straight across the face, shattering his lenses. Both gorillas hit the floor like sacks of human concrete.
In the dystopian future, the simple solutions are still sometimes the most effective, thought Kiera. Lol.
Aubrey Wood was born in Monterey, CA in 1987, the daughter of African-American Malbour Lee and kiwi (Pakeha) Anne Robyn. She grew up in San Diego, and moved to New Zealand in 1999, where she graduated from the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand in 2008.