V.A.O. stands for two things in this book - Victim Activated Ordnance, and Very Ancient Offenders. In a return to more overt science-fiction trappings, Ryman introduces us to a future where the elderly are forced into a life of crime to pay for care. Despite initially bringing to mind comedic images of the 'raving old ladies' Monty Python sketch of yore, this is a compelling and all too believable read. My only two issues with the book are its length (at only 53 pages of fairly large type it's rather charitable to call this a novella instead of a short story), and that due to the minimal cast of characters the climactic plot-twist revelation of a key mystery figure is fairly obvious from the first few pages. Despite this, an enjoyable read.