The sixth installment of the FUTURES series, brings a disquieting reflection on what it means to live both online and offline. A POINT OF HONOR by Aeryn Rudel, featuring art by Sabrina Cintron, is an off-putting, but intimate snapshot of what could happen if you could literally duel online trolls.
Set in a near future USA, the government has decided to re-institute old dueling codes, which are reinforced by a new federal agency, the Bureau of Honorable Affairs. Anyone who suffers from slander, libel, and other crimes can force the offenders to face them in a perfectly legal duel. Enter Jacob Mayweather, who is asked to face a man he has never met in a duel to the death. If he refuses he will lose his job and be blacklisted as a duel dodger. The only way out for him, may be through.
Rudel takes what is somewhat always present in our day to day lives, the fact of social media and our constant fights and decides to remix it here. The Bureau of Honorable Affairs has threads of the far over reaching governments of dystopian classics like 1984 or V for Vendetta. The difference is that he has made it extremely civil and everyone merely accepts these duels as a fact of life, entirely desensitized. Never mind that this is the government forcing people to murder one another for petty squabbles.
The Mayweathers are excellently laid out and their struggles as a married couple play out in a very real and heartbreaking way. Jacob is a complex character that I found myself repelled by and attracted to throughout the story. This helps with expanding out on this theme of what people do to each other based on emotion or for just inane enjoyment.
In some ways, Rudel seems to be making a larger exploration of how we treat people at large. The rise of the Bureau of Honor Affairs raises the questions of how we are complicit in allowing systems to take over actions that we would normally be responsible for. Solving disagreements? Treating one another with respect? Don’t bully people online? Normal human interaction comes under the microscope and creates a literal body count.
If any of that sounds interesting to you, please give this one a read!
You can find A POINT OF HONOR here.