The tor.com novellas have generally been an interesting bunch, and Runtime definitely adds to the mix. There’s a lot of background stuff which I find really intriguing: the society, the genderless/third gender (it’s not entirely clear what this should be considered as), the tech… The idea of what amounts to a caste system in America is pretty topical, given the attitude to immigrants at the moment, and it doesn’t feel that far off or strange.
The story itself is relatively simple: Marmeg, the protagonist, joins in a gruelling race using implants and an exoskeleton, hoping to finance her future and get her brother legal status in the US with the winnings. In the end, she has to choose what’s most important, and does what I think most readers would consider the right thing… and loses what she hoped for as a result, because the system doesn’t want to allow people like Marmeg to win. It’s a complex situation which has a quick look around at the ethics of the situation Marmeg ends up in; I won’t spoiler you on exactly what that is.
Despite the simplicity of that plot — a stripped down The Long Walk — it works well, and the voices help to make it as well. I’ll be looking out for Divya’s writing.