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The Rules of Ragatanga

For boys Ricky’s age, the forty yard swim to the north bank wasn’t something to fear. For one, there was no danger of drowning since the depth of the river was only four feet at its lowest. Secondly, they would only have to swim half the distance before reaching the barrier, at which point they would join the rocks in limbo for a short time before resetting to a spawn point. They would lose their inventory—the river would wash it away—and their experience points, but for the most part they would be unharmed. There was no shame in being reset, at least not when it was intentional.

A Cry in the MESH

Mornings in the store were quiet, with only one or two locals dropping by to fill up deisel drums for their ancient combines and tractors. Mid-day, Nelson rotated the stock in the coolers, tossing out the milk that had gone more than three weeks past its expiration date. He spent time cleaning the spotless floor, wiping down the untouched glass doors, and rearranging the undisturbed bags of chips. In the afternoon, when the sun was low enough to bounce off the 277’s blacktop, Nelson retreated to the back office to dial-up to the handful of Bulletin Board Systems he frequented. He read news stories, played a few games, and downloaded the latest celebrity nudes, all while keeping a watchful eye on the security cameras.

The Coker Job

Tanzy placed her hands on the floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the Atlantic City boardwalk. From the 78th floor of the White Dragon Resort and Casino, the people below were mere specks on a thin band of polluted sand. Choppy water filled most of the view, stretching out into the distance under a blanket of twinkling stars. She pressed her forehead against the glass and tried to look down the building.

The Chip Job

The last thing Danny needed was a history lesson on Austin, Texas. He knew the city’s love-hate relationship with the tech companies that had built it up only to abandon it in its time of need. He knew hundreds of disheveled engineers showed up on its doorstep every day with their student loans and CCNA certificates hoping for a job with one of the few tech companies that remained. They flocked to the campuses of Dell, Pattrn, and Nixle Chronos, but more often than not ended up in Old Downtown with all the rest of the unused talent.

Johnny’s Loop

When he was fifteen years old, Johnny San Vito logged into a military-sponsored, virtual reality BBS using his dad’s account and threatened to beat the shit out of an Airman who went by the ultra-cool handle Raw Dawg. I was right there along with him too, using my dad’s account, but to this day I’m ninety percent sure it was Johnny who started the whole mess. And when Raw Dawg went crying to his superiors, it was our dads who got called in for disciplinary meetings. I don’t know how or if Johnny ever got punished for getting his dad in trouble, but I had my immersion rig taken away for three months.

Applied Harmonics

To understand the scope of Applied Harmonics’ work, you have to look at the startup scene in Austin, Texas around the mid-90’s, back before the scene itself had a name. Around that time, Austin was seeing an influx of Californian money, most of it by way of rich West Coasters who fled the high cost of living for the laid back, BBQ and beer lifestyle of the Live Music Capital of the World. They took the foundations of Silicon Valley and started rebuilding it here.

Conscription

There was still a small bustle in the office: a few senior coders, the muted bass thump of techno-slop, and of course, the synthetic staff. Synnies were unavoidable in Perion City, and they never took vacations. They kept right on cleaning the offices, emptying the trash cans, and more or less submitting to whatever whim an organic human might throw at them.

Not From Here

Your skepticism doesn’t change the veracity of my story, nor does it have any bearing on my motives. You may think the idea of universal infinity to be nonsense. And I get that. It’s hard to imagine other yous. Out there living their lives. Making better choices. Making worse choices. There’s a universe where you got the girl, got that promotion, and made millions of dollars. There’s another where you lost it all, ended up on the streets, and died cold and alone.

Recent Reviews

An imaginative page-turner Perion Synthetics is about robots, well really, a possible future world sprinkled with synthetic humans. It is also a story about secrets of a great corporation and the intergenerational change of leadership in a tightly held company. Just as it is a reality in 2014 to take Google autonomous cars without a human touching the controls as it drives from city to city, some of the robots in this book are entirely plausible, and could be logical extensions of stories we read about in today’s news. But then you turn a page and you have crossed into the implausible – these are state of the art augmentations and future synthetic human models. Buck Rogers space travel was equally unbelievable in 1928. Who is to say whether Verastiqui’s story is not the future path taken by research in artificial intelligence and material science when we look backward a hundred years from now? Each of six main characters is introduced in depth. As you read along, a complex multi-dimensional story emerges as you see the plot from each of the different perspectives. I accepted the story from Cameron’s point of view, until I read Cynthia’s and so on. It was like looking through a hexagon windowed display in a museum. The new angles allowed the reader to comprehensively see the complete story. Knowing there is no sequel yet and coming to the end of the story, ordinarily the reader might feel let-down, a bit like post partum blues, but not here. The author has kindly provided the antidote and frosting on the cake, by dishing up a coda for each character so you know what happens to them after the story concludes.

Jane Howard – Perion Synthetics

Another great book by Verastiqui. If you like science fiction to be the kind that seems truly possible, then read this book. A world where wars are fought by robots and where an expiring physical body can be exchanged for a semi-immortal ‘sleeve’ make this book truly thought provoking. The author does a great job combing drama, action, and philosophical questions, and his characters have flaws that bring out their humanity. There are many unpredictable plot twists that keep the surprises coming.

Todd Pruner – Por Vida
© 2018 Daniel Verastiqui