‘Sarging Rasmussen’ by Gord Sellar
I’ve known Sellar for over a decade but never read any of his fiction (sorry, Gord). So I’m pleased to be able to say ‘Sarging Rasmussen’ is pretty good.
The central conceit is that environmental activists harness the unholy powers of the Game (not the game the Game) and use their skills as pick-up artists for good rather than evil. It is as high concept as a dinosaur called Derek playing death metal but falls into an uncanny valley of plausibility which makes it more unsettling.
Sellar is very good at rendering the terminology of the “sarging” pick-up artist (or PUA) in the same terms as any other science fictional jargon and, unlike a lot of this stories, he is fully inhabiting the world he has created, working through its implications. Such as the conceptual break through when they realise there are other ways of using this nuerolinguistic programming: “sarging is sarging. It’s all the same game, and all the skills are interchangeable.” After that we are down the rabbit hole and sharking for girls becomes indistinguishable from international espionage.