|Blue Angel by Alejandro Lizardo|
Technology. We all love it. We all use it…but at what price? The lack of human to human interaction is a well-documented by-product of our new age of the internet, especially with our collective obsession over social media. As a science fiction author, it’s pretty much in the job description to not only imagine where technology is taking us but some of the ramifications that comes along with those leaps in modern marvels.
“What could possibly go wrong?” Those are the words that usually preface the majority of internet stunt videos, followed in a close second by “hold my beer”. It’s the unexpected turns that life takes that makes it interesting and keeps us watching, or in an author’s case, keeps readers reading. We may not have the flying time machines promised in movies like Back to the Future, but I don’t think anyone saw Facebook coming back in 1985 either, just ask MySpace.
We spend more and more of our lives online, at work, at home, in our cars. It’s an integrated part of our culture that is evolving with each new generation. The term virtual reality is less a high tech concept than a blended version of a place somewhere between each of our real worlds and the ones we live over the internet. We’ve all heard stories of people interacting with dead loved ones on social media or playing a “ghost” version of a lost family member’s profile on a gaming system. For a writer, the possibilities are as endless as the internet itself.
That’s what led me to the inspiration for my latest book, Maxx Fragg, V.P.I. Maxx is just a regular guy struggling to make it in today’s digital society until his world is pulled out from under him. His brother dies in a car crash, in a car Maxx was driving, but he loses more than his brother at that intersection, he also loses his faith in humanity. Looking to lose himself inside the virtual world of Other Syde, Maxx strikes back at everyone whose lives seem untainted by the same tragedy he’s endured.
Unfortunately for Maxx, a real ghost comes calling for him inside the virtual world, exploring the possibility that the line separating that digital plane and the after-life is stretched thin enough for way-ward spirits to find their way through. When he’s saved by the last person he expected to ever see again, his brother, Maxx’s wavering faith is strengthened by the possibility of having a second chance to say goodbye. With the help of his friend Tane, and almost-girlfriend Emi, he needs to find the truth inside a world built around deception.
Here’s an excerpt from the book.
“You haven’t got a brain between the two of you!” Emi slammed her milkshake on the counter.
“Aww, don’t say that, Emi.” Tane worked at a mouth full of pretzels, sitting next to Maxx at the Wash’s soda bar.
Ignoring him, she looked at Maxx. “From what you just told me, you both could’ve been killed. Demons, O.S. Force Agents-”
“O.S. Corp,” Maxx corrected her.
“I don’t care if they’re the Peace Corps!” Emi shouted.
Tane raised his hand to interrupt.
“Don’t even go there, Tane.” Emi glared at him. “Look, you two, it’s obvious you’re not thinking straight. It’s over. Your money is gone. You just need to deal with it. There are a lot more important things in life.” She took a breath and softened her tone. “I know that seeing something in there that looked like Jason freaked you out. Who wouldn’t? Somebody is just trying to play some sick kind of practical joke on you and it’s not funny.”
Not exactly the response he was expecting but Maxx could hardly blame her. “I know this all seems impossible but then explain how I got this cut in my chest. You saw it. That isn’t make believe or someone pulling a sick stunt.”
Emi looked at Maxx’s shirt. “Sometimes the mind can do unbelievable things to the body, some kind of post-traumatic stress. I’m sure someone has done a study on that. I bet you didn’t look anything like that up on the internet, did you?”
“No, but, this wasn’t like that,” Maxx said.
“Exactly, you looked for the answers you wanted. All the messing around you two do in that computer world, hooking gizmos into your nervous system. It’s no wonder your body doesn’t know what to believe is real. You’ve seen the articles about people dying from being in that program. Maybe this is just some new type of symptom. It’s your body’s way of telling you to stop what you’re doing and I think it may be right,” Emi pleaded.
“Then explain the HeadRoom page?” Maxx asked. “I wasn’t in O.S. when that happened. I was sitting in my room, Emi. It was real.”
Emi wove her fingers together. “I don’t know, Maxx. I’m not like you. I’m not a computer geek to the nth level with macro this and leet that. Maybe someone is after you. Maybe you ticked off one too many people with all this scamming. I’m just glad you got thrown out and you’re safe.”
Maxx saw the concern in her eyes, which made his next statement all the more difficult. “That’s exactly why we’re going back in.”
Maxx Fragg, V.I.P
With technology blurring the lines of what’s real and what’s not, and virtual landscapes expanding at an unprecedented rate, we’re expanding our humanity into uncharted waters. Where will it lead us in the next twenty or thirty years? Who knows but it should make for some exciting stories.
Sci-Fi Fantasy author featured at Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday and a creative contributor/writer for American Mythology comics. He’s written for Bleeding Cool magazine and his short story, Tangled Lines, appeared in the Hazard Yet Forward charity anthology. His first novel, Welcome To GreenGrass, was released in 2013, being reviewed as “Men in Black meet interplanetary Columbo”.
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