Strange Horizons: June 4, 2007
From the first paragraph we know two things: Private Detective Molly is a science fiction story and it is a detective story with the feel of a pulp dime novel or a Marlowe (or Jonathan Lethem's Gun, With Occasional Music). The narrator is clearly a low rent detective who would be at home with the pulp gumshoes of yesteryear.
The first thing I see when the persona generator opens is the bedroom ceiling above me. It's a humid afternoon and the paint's peeling off the cracked plaster like some third-rate strip show. It's enough to make me want to stay in the generator.The initially unnamed Private Detective is given a case...why, when the little girl who owns a persona generator attempts to get "Debutante Molly", does she get Private Detective Molly? Private Detective Molly, the story, is loaded with that pulp feeling narration.
I freeze with my hand on the door. Sounds like she's giving me a case. I spin around and look up at her face. "You want me to figure out who froze your dial and why?"A.B. Goelman does two things extremely well in Private Detective Molly. Goelman hits the stylistic narration perfectly and he moves the story along at a brisk pace. Private Detective Molly is a clever twist on the detective story and is loaded with charm and personality.
She nods, tears welling up in her eyes. I'm a sucker for a crying girl. You can call it programming if you want, but I think it's Molly-Doll nature. Just like human nature, but a whole lot more decent.
Private Detective Molly is pure pleasure to read. We’ve got a child doll programmed as a private detective trying to investigate why it was programmed as a private detective, all for another child and while obeying its programming regarding authority. An outstandingly entertaining story to read.
If A.B. Goelman has written anything else Private Detective Molly is strong enough to make me want to find it.