Travel Documents 64: Collected


Nicole Givens Kurtz 


Genre: near-future,  dystopian, biopunk

 Link To Buy

The Dust Cover Copy

Before the Change, before Jane, and before she became a PI badass, Cybil Lewis cut her teeth in the District as a solo, brand new private inspector. At last, those stories of her early years are collected into this volume of short stories and novellas. Offering beautiful illustrations by comic book and brilliant artist, Julia Lacquement (DC Comics), Collected: A Cybil Lewis SF Mystery Collection provides action-packed, mystery stories set in the futuristic territory of D.C. (the District).

Whether this is your first time meeting Cybil or are a long-time fan, this collection should be a part of yours.
You won’t be disappointed.

The Deets

The Scene

World building

Painting a bleak picture of the industrial world’s future, this work is a collected series of short stories exploring what it means to be good, what it means to be human and what it means to live a good life, set against the backdrop of a bad world. There’s a lot of power here.


The Crowd


In characterization, everyone’s pretty much boiler plate noir. Cybil is the classic gal with a past, a badge and a heart of gold. Those around her follow classic lines as well: the hardened vet, the striver, the off-limits coworker, and so forth. This isn’t a bad thing, and it is well handled. But I did feel that there wasn’t much to be said beyond the fact that they are well-executed archetypes. I’ve always had a soft spot for Miss Marple mysteries and Golden Age radio mystery dramas: think of this as a gritty neo-noir version.

The Lingo

Writing Style

I did feel there was some work to be done here. There’s a handful of typos, the venal sin of all us indies and nothing that bad. But the language comes across as stilted; five-dollar words are oddly placed, and there’s a feeling that the author can’t decide whether they’re going for the slang of the street or the clarity of the classroom. It’s a subtle problem, but it did grate on me over time.

The Moves


Each story is a quick, interesting read with lots of energy. Like episodes of a good show, they wrap up nicely, and they give you a lot to think about regarding humanity, personal identity, personal responsibility and where we need to draw the lines.

Overall Rating

I recommend this little book for airports, train trips, and anywhere where you can’t read too long but want to entertain yourself. The quick-wrap, curious little short stories fill that niche perfectly.