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The Rider, F&SF September / October 2014

F&SF Sep/Oct 2014I am very happy to announce that my novelette “The Rider” will appear in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (aka F&SF) in September.

No, strike that, I am not very happy — I am overjoyed, ecstatic, bouncing all over the place, and still not completely sure this is really happening.  It’s a dream come true to be accepted in F&SF.  Many, many thanks to Gordon Van Gelder and the F&SF team, and to all the friends who commented on the first few (dozen) drafts.


The story (without spoilers!):

The Rider follows two persons: David, an artificial intelligence embodied in a small, smart phone-like device, and his carrier — his “rider” — Luke, a former, failed poker player who dabbled in cons before switching to this new, not less murky career. David is “the brains” and Luke “the muscles” of this partnership, which until now has been very profitable to both of them.

Until… now.



“…an action piece without a lot of techno-neepery, but the characterization is key. The milieu is a world where ruthless players with money and power can only be defeated by others more ruthless, rich and powerful. And intelligent. A good read… Recommended” — Lois Tilton, Locus Online

“…a fun continuation of “the last job” trope in which the gunfighter goes off into the sunset, but here he goes off with a buddy and not a babe. and the buddy in question is all gears and sprockets…” — Martha Burns, Tangent Online


Behind the curtains:

For the backstory, The Rider started on a slight regret — that modern science (in medicine, in physics, in semiconductors…) is becoming so complex that it is now done in large teams of ultra-specialists. The time of the single, genius inventor seems to be slipping behind us — and it’s complicating things for us writers: ideally, for simplicity you’d rather manage only one genius in your story. In Blade Runner, the androids and Deckard all converge to J.F. Sebastian: it’s simpler than introducing dozens of different specialists, and not knowing (without arid theoretical explanations) which one should be particularly protected against the androids.

So what if… someone could still design chips alone, in his or her garage? And this is how Hideo Tahara, David’s creator, was born.

(Actually, when I imagined him, it’s not Sebastian I was thinking about: for some reason, it was the eye trader, in his cold room. Sebastian looked like he was only playing, whereas the eye trader was working on his products, seemed more likely to come up with something really important or dangerous. What was the name of his character? I can’t find it…)

Among other influences: the now ubiquitous smart phones; Siri; HAL and 2001 of course (and 2010 too!); Riders in the Storm (official soundtrack of the story); Michael Moorcock; the tortuous streets of Wanchai (Hong Kong); the crazy, golden towers of the casinos in Macau; Some Like It Hot…

Plenty of good things, I think.

I hope you’ll like it.


  1. John John

    I read the Rider. I liked it. Liked it enough to be sad that there’s not more. Continue the story.

    • Jérôme Cigut Jérôme Cigut

      Thanks a lot, glad you liked it. 🙂 I’m working on it…

  2. Volmeer Volmeer

    Great story, more please!

  3. Florence Waterman Florence Waterman

    Great world building. Nice, intriguing hook & very fast moving & addictive until Black Box disappears. A risky choice for a writer — switching genre after act II. Personally I found the conclusion didn’t wallow in sentimentality but didn’t totally avoid it either.
    As presented, narrator sounds like he’s got some issues with women beyond wanting to treat them fairly. But then a lot of sci-fi heroes have social maturity/Asperger’s syndrome issues. Hope you’re planning to set more stories in that time/place.

    • Jérôme Cigut Jérôme Cigut

      I think you are spot on. Thanks for your feedback and words of encouragement!

  4. Scott Scott

    Loved the Rider, took me back to the first time I read Neuromancer. Great vibe, and truly want to see more

    • Jérôme Cigut Jérôme Cigut

      Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks a lot for the feedback!

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