Many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations. Suppose that these simulated people are conscious (as they would be if the simulations were sufficiently fine-grained and if a certain quite widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind is correct). Then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race. It is then possible to argue that, if this were the case, we would be rational to think that we are likely among the simulated minds rather than among the original biological ones. Therefore, if we don’t think that we are currently living in a computer simulation, we are not entitled to believe that we will have descendants who will run lots of such simulations of their forebears.
— Nick Bostrom, Are you living in a computer simulation?, 2003
Behold the bloody machinery of the world.
The year is 2017. Donald Trump is President. Mass murders are commonplace. Nazis are back. The world balances on the precipice of nuclear war. Most people agree: reality is completely out of control.
But it’s not all bad news.
As it happens, none of it is real.
The world as you know it is actually a simulation centered around the city of Austin, Texas, and more specifically, four of its residents. There is nothing special about them on the surface; one’s a manager at a tech startup, another is a former soldier who drives for Brinks, the sole female is a moderately famous YouTube personality, and the fourth is a day-trader who is making a killing with Bitcoin.
They’re just normal people living out what they believe are normal lives.
But in reality—that is, actual reality—they are all dreaming, hooked into a collective delusion set in the Live Music Capital of the World.
For almost four decades, they have enjoyed American life at the dawn of the 21st century. But now it is time to wake up.
How will they feel when they learn everything they’ve ever known is a lie? Will they tell themselves they knew it all along? Will they abandon their faith and embrace chaos? Or will they use the opportunity to make a fresh start as someone else?
Only time, vicious infighting, and the threat of death at the hands of synthetic killing machines will tell for sure.
You don't love me. You don't even know me.
In 2035, the future of synthetic living has finally arrived, but so too has the threat of a global machine war. Rising Hollywood star Sepideh Ahmadi never imagined she would transition to an artificial body, but when her longtime girlfriend Natasha develops a terminal illness, the choices become clear: either give up their physical bodies and stay together, or allow Natasha to die.
As a synthetic woman, Sepideh discovers there is more to being human than just her thoughts and memories. Smells are stronger, sensations are more nuanced. She is no longer anxious or nervous. She is no longer herself, and neither is Natasha.
Now, with a machine army threatening to invade California, crazed fans following her every move, and her new marriage slowly breaking apart, Sepideh must figure out who she will be in the centuries to come.
In a world where immortality can be purchased, will the cost be more than just money?
Join Sepideh Ahmadi as she answers these questions and more in the fourth Vinestead novel from Daniel Verastiqui.
One part science fiction, one part psychological thriller, and 100% edge of your seat thrill ride. The characters are complex and delightful. The plot is well thought out and solid. The little clues along the way... little things that made me roll my eyes at the continuity error... Let's just say when it suddenly makes sense, it's like a kick in the gut (and I mean that in a very good way). - Sydnie Macelroy
A titan will fall. A titan will rise.
Sava Kessler has spent almost a decade protecting the public image of Perion Synthetics, the world's leading manufacturer of artificially intelligent, synthetic humans. In that time, she has elevated CEO James Perion to the role of national savior, a tech titan with the moral and financial fortitude to protect the country from maligned conglomerate Vinestead International. But now the savior is dying, and there is no guarantee that the next ruler of Perion City will share James Perion's vision of a synthetic utopia.
To ensure the company's survival, Sava enlists a synthetic army to defend a vulnerable Perion Synthetics from corporate sabotage, media scrutiny, and insidious threats from all corners of the city.
Will the world learn the true nature of the coming synthetic revolution? Can Sava keep inquisitive aggregators from the three largest media houses in the country from revealing the company's darkest secrets... and several of her own?
Based on a foundation of highly advanced (yet accessible for the reader) technology, Verastiqui quickly establishes both the characters and the world they live in with clever dialog and enough description to visualize the scenes without bogging down in detail. Few characters are who they appear to be initially – some of them aren't even human! Throw in enough plot twists to keep your mind churning on what’s going to happen next during the times when you are actually able to put the book down, and Perion Synthetics is definitely worth a read. - Billy MoranBuy Now
Believing is seeing.
In the 22nd century, augmented reality is no longer a novelty, but rather a way of life for citizens of Easton. Children are taught at a young age to control the ubiquitous layer of reality known as veneer through a process called reconciliation. Those who learn to reconcile live in a constant state of redefinition, of the world and of themselves. Those who struggle are forced to stand by and watch the world change without them.
For this skill, there are no shortcuts, no special glasses or handheld devices. The power to change comes from within.
Deron Bishop wants to live in the augmented world, to perform the magic of reconciliation like his peers, but controlling the veneer has always been a problem for him. Already resentful of the one thing he could never master, Deron doesn't realize how much he needs the veneer until a violent run-in with a childhood rival puts him in the hospital and robs him of his virtual sight.
Now able to see the world as it truly exists, Deron must choose to abandon Easton or fight his way back to the veneered fantasy of his previous life—a fight not everyone wants him to win.
A lot of SF theses days seems to congregate around certain themes and tropes, but Veneer is something very different indeed. It takes an emerging idea (augmented reality) and runs with it into the distant future. The writing is really tight, the story grips you right from the start, the characters are fully realized, and the central conceit of the book (which I won't spoil by going into) is very, very smart. - David Gaughran
She stole his heart. He stole her mind.
In the years before Vinestead took over the worldwide, freely available virtual reality known as The Net, anything was possible. Go anywhere. Be anyone.
You could even clone your girlfriend in virtual reality, if you were so inclined.
When X discovers that his long distance relationship with C is about to end, he copies her mind and loads her into a virtual avatar in the Net. But in his haste to preserve his high school sweetheart, X forgets to program the one feature he ends up needing most: how to turn her off.
Now it is up to Natalie and G to rescue their friend from the farthest reaches of the Net. Along the way, they must battle a cipher who cannot be killed, a virus that cannot be stopped, and a global conglomerate that will do anything to seize control of the precious Net.
Aside from the title (which, seriously, how the hell would you pronounce that?), I really loved this book once I got going with it. The characters are beautifully drawn, if slightly annoying sometimes with their obsessions, and the representation of what life could be like a few years from now is eerie and resonant. The novel gets slightly repetitive in places, with X constantly revisiting and reliving scenes of his time with C, but that seems to be a deliberate choice on the part of the author. With our entire lives available for replay, it's easy to fall into a loop, living in the past. I also had a slight issue with how quickly everyone falls into obsessive, "I would die for you" love, but they are all teenagers, so I guess it's not that strange. - Jeba
Daniel Verastiqui writes Science Fiction!
His novels focus on relationships and identity in the larger context of technology, explosions, and gratuitous nudity. He draws inspiration from his obsession with technology as well as his professional work in Austin's high-tech startup scene.
Daniel claims to live in Austin, Texas with his bride-to-be, Dominique, his son, El Matador, and his two dogs, Cheyenne and Jetson, but who knows if any of that is true.
His books are pretty awesome, especially if you're a fan of Asimov, PKD, Richard K. Morgan, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Daniel Saurez, or countless other great Science Fiction authors.
He recommends you start with his latest novel, Por Vida, and work backwards.
This is what his family looks like, minus the dogs.
He wrote this in third person.