by Robert Jackson Bennett
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Another novella from tor.com, Vigilance is like the darkest Black Mirror episode imaginable. It's hard to say if it should be considered satire, or the most realistic, prescient projection of a current trend. In a country where politicians assert that the best way to protect children in schools is to arm their teachers (when even security guards and LE can't accomplish the task), following that sort of logic leads to everyone thinking they will be the "good guy with a gun" if given the chance. Add in the plethora of sports competition shows and viral social media, the end result is Vigilance, a televised and streamed active shooter scenario.
Everyone starts carrying, since almost any public venue could be chosen for the next event. Contestants are selected according to expected profiles; disaffected teen, military or LE reject, racists, Nazi sympathizers. Advertisers vie for publicity in case any of their products are featured on the show. If any shooter survives the timed encounter they win the grand prize, $5 million. If a civilian takes out the shooter, they win the prize. That's all you need to know. I'm keeping this short just like the story. It's a gut punch, or I should say a gut shot. Outrageous, but all too believable at the same time. I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, but maybe it should have been 0 if they allowed that, so as to warn people away from it. I'm afraid there are some idiots who would like to see it happen in the real world.
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