Author: W.H. Buxton
Genre: Fantasy science fiction
Publisher: Bennett & Hastings Publishing
The year is 2069 and Jim Murphy thinks he has the world pretty much figured out, as a Knowledge Management Consultant (whatever that is!) muddling through various technology consulting jobs. That is, until his company, SciPop Inc., assigns him to work a particularly unusual project involving the acquisition of a small backpacking and hiking services business owned by techno-hater Laura Meyers.
Jim, however, never works alone. He, like everyone else in the world, is armed with the ultimate technology super-support tool: a personalized, artificially intelligent, holographic Virtual Life form, more commonly known as a Vertal, named Jasper.
Just as Jim lives, works and socializes in the physical world; Jasper lives, works, and socializes in the Cybersphere, coexisting and coordinating on behalf of Jim with other Vertals as both navigate the world of the Cybersphere; a 24/7 on-line computer world connecting everyone to everything. Everyone uses it, but in order to use it, you need a Vertal.
Somehow, Laura Meyers has learned to exist in the Cybersphere without a Vertal, unfathomable to Jim, Jasper or anyone else at SciPop. But as Jim works the project, he soon discovers there is much more going on in the Cybersphere than SciPop’s acquisition of this small, unassuming business when Jasper suddenly goes missing.
Jim discovers SciPop has a much bigger and darker plan for “Laura’s Hikes” than just a simple acquisition of one of the few non-technical companies left in existence. Much more.
Welcome to CyberLife: A weeklong initiation into the cybercentric universe of techno-biologic symbiosis which is considered by all to be perfectly organized, functional, efficient, and effective.
As long as Jim, Laura and Jasper follow the rules and regulations of SciPop.
Which, so far, they have tended not to do very well.
I must be dreaming. At least I think I’m dreaming.
Nope. I’m aware of myself lying in bed, so I must be somewhat awake. I glance
over at Clock—0247. I guess that’s good news since I have enough time left to actually
go back to sleep before my usual 0600 go time.
Drifting in and out of sleep can be aggravating. But drifting in and out of real and
dreamlike virtual experiences seems normal to me. Over the past twenty-one years
I’ve become comfortable with my mental and virtual wanderings, and if Clock is
right I have plenty of time to transition back and forth this morning before I activate
my internal motivation gene that will enable me to get up and earn my paycheck.
This little bit of personalized power is enough to keep me satisfied for the moment.
I don’t know if it’s normal, but I can, at least to some degree, orchestrate my
dreams when I’m in this twilight state of mind. I can’t control what my dreams are
about when I’m fully and completely asleep; no one can. But as I lie here in a quasi-
comatose meditative state enjoying a temporary unplugging, I take advantage of my
awesome talent and force the direction that my future dream may take when I do
eventually fall back asleep. Call it a gift.
Thinking of gifts: Lying here in my technology-saturated apartment, I begin to
think of something simple and happy—before I acquired all this character-building
life experience. I guess that’s a gift unto itself, but not something I want to think
about now while looking fuzzily at my darkened ceiling through half-opened eyelids.
I want to think of something better. As I have done many times before, I think
back to my eighteenth birthday, before I was hardwired in to the full-time 24-7-365
business world. Just before I got the gift of all gift s.
Engaging dream control. Disengage fact checking. Memory systems nominal.
Happy birthday, Jimmy.