Rehab for cyberpunk hackers. Mickey's been here before, with a head full of junk, trying to get better so he can go back to his Lia. This is Jonathan's first trip to Rubin’s non-tech health facility, and being away from his tech is making him start to melt down. Find out how two recovering cyber-cowboys decide to reboot their lives, if they choose that option at all... A near-future SF tale. More
"I’m on the front porch of Rubin’s place, staring across the lawn at the silent cars slashing past, feeling old and empty inside, when the new guy walks out. He’s got the cowboy twitch, the uncontrolled jerk of the head to the right or left, that all of us have when we first arrive here. I suddenly want to scratch the back of my head, down at the base, but I fight the impulse. The new guy sits next to me, sighs, then pulls his head up suddenly. It goes down and up again three times before I look away. Nobody likes watching someone else short circuit."
"Unplugged" was first published in SpaceWays Weekly, January 2000, reprinted at ShadowKeep, September 2000, and then reprinted again in Gunning for the Buddha (also available as an ebook).
"The details are sharp and unsentimental: we see the ex-cowboys jerking and twitching, hear their mumbled, brain-fried conversations, but the view is compassionate, not scornful, and the inward battle is viscerally real." — SF Site