"...revenge or no, you’ll still live every waking moment of the rest of your life knowing that if you suddenly disappear off the pavement in this hellhole of a city, the first person to come looking for you will be your landlord, because the rent is overdue."
The Glitch Logs are tapping into the same vein as K.C Alexander's cyberpunk action thrillers. Glitch is a hacker of some notoriety, a famous, retired gamer girl, and a veteran Runner. She pulls off jobs against 'corps that others only hear about in hushed tones throughout the sub-culture. Surprisingly, her day-to-day interactions are more relatable than I had anticipated. She may be infiltrating an evil Corp with some compatriots, breaking their security in 3 minutes (tops). But she's also dealing with fuckboys who undermine her on the job because they think they're being chivalrous, or whatever.
"Glitch stared at him for a beat. She had dozens of runs to her name and he was giving her instruction. Offering to come to her rescue. Implying that she’d need it. Unacceptable."
Rachel Beck, the author, does a great job of peppering in small details that culminate into an experience that feels authentic. The banner says "The World Is Hers For The Breaking". She's got the experience, the technical skills, and the attitude in the fiction, no doubt about it. Interestingly though, the challenges Glitch faces end up being intersectional ones that contribute to world-building even when we know as a reader that she's probably going to hack the shit out of this system. When it comes to the physical world though, we have no idea how it's going to play out, all bets her off. She's a hacker, not an enforcer.
The first novella, Defrag, is an action-packed cyberpunk story that takes place during what should be an easy data-grab from the Eyes In The Sky corporation but, well... things go to shit and Glitch has to seriously roll with some punches to get out with all her body parts intact.
"Cold pixels from her right rear leg flew through the air like blood droplets."
The second book, Overclocked, takes place immediately after this job and carries forward a lot of small, seemingly innocuous details into the second book. They hinted at potential character details yet to be revealed, served as the catalyst for the main thrust of this new book's plot, and was another vector for world building. As such, each time these details carried forward there was a pleasant feedback loop.
"Runners are moths. Doesn’t matter how perfect a machine you build. There’s a weakness there, and Runners will find a way to exploit it."
Sometimes shit just happens to Glitch. It's the life of a runner. Living outside the law and scraping a living, the cyberpunk way, you know how it goes. What is compelling about her is that she also can't help but make additional problems for herself due to her moral code on top of this life she's chosen. Then, baggage from the previous runs accrue and that weight is embodied in various, clever ways; one of which is an item from the first book that seemed at first just to be a cool bit of tech described offhandedly—but revealed throughout as something more across both books. I really enjoyed that.
"Like all of society’s discards, the street life of Neosaka immediately put the tunnels to use and so the Night Market was born."
Even her moral code, an assumption (and a trope of cyberpunk) are expounded upon in a compelling way that is intrinsic to the character (It also seems to be the catalyst for the next book as well based on the epilogue). Details are always used to great effect. From Glitch noticing how many women are around in an underground night market and how safe she feels in that space because of that, to the smells and sights of the world around her. The reactions of Glitch to her surroundings, as well as the world's reactions to her, feel dynamic and real.
"She looked away and saw his blood running down the channel of the transportation rails built into the floor, like blood vessels of the mall itself."
The characters, including Glitch herself, were all pretty diverse from what I recall, and there were a few interactions that also felt like they'd be pulled out of a conversation you'd hear on the street. Even characters who are "nice" and treat her well have stereotypical reactions to her, such as assuming that because she's Latina she can speak Spanish, help to create environments that make the world feel lived in.
"There were no other women here, and she’d only noticed a couple in the surrounding tunnel on her way in. Not a good, long-term hiding solution."
I thought the first book was very enjoyable and delivered the experience pitched in the blurb. The second book was even more enjoyable because of the details already talked about, the introduction of the wider world and societal structures, Glitch taking just a pounding Harry Dresden style, the author's superb descriptions of digital environments and the interactions therein, and the safe space Glitch has created for herself there; which I won't spoil.
"Runners were social outliers - proud, volatile, and adhering to a strong tradition of greeting anything that rubbed them wrong by kicking it in the teeth, no matter how large or powerful the jaws."
If she could, Glitch would tell the world to fuck off and stay in the matrix, that's clear throughout. But where many stories with deckers who jack in often skew a little too much toward the idea that meatspace and your own embodiment doesn't matter over the power fantasy that is your mind over matter; The Glitch Logs do not. Instead, the matrix is a beautiful world where Glitch is very powerful and savvy but also largely permeated and dominated by corporations or other opponents (like hackers that want what you have).
"You wanted to be a Runner, this is how Runners survive. You learn to walk away."
Ultimately the only thing Glitch truly has is the way in which she chooses to live her life. She is constantly being pressured to do something someone else's way; easy choices that would make her life so much easier if she would just do things another way. And it would be easier, Maybe. But as Overclocked somewhat eludes to, she may have made that decision before already and the past is always something you carry around with you.
"Everyone has a price. We all sell out to something. Anyone who thinks they’re the exception is just scared or stupid.” Her eyes narrowed. “Maybe you’ve been able to outrun that truth so far, but sooner or later, it’ll catch you by the throat and drag you down just like it did the rest of ‘us’."
If you dig cyberpunk thrillers, especially stuff that feels like K.C Alexander's stuff (but less Britishy and much less crass) I feel safe recommending you these. Both exceeded my expectations for a fun little cyberpunk romp, ending up being delightful. I gave them both 5/5 and you can find them in print here. They are also available as Ebooks, which is how I consumed them, here.