Cognito Integration

January 27, 2021

The idea for this book comes from the surge of popularity of the LitRPG genre. For those unfamiliar, this is a fairly recent sub-genre of Fantasy and Sci-fi (either or both). Most books use a fantasy setting, but the premise is almost always sci-fi. The general gist of the genre is to place the main character in a game world, give them a character sheet, and watch them struggle. This often comes about via some kind of advanced virtual reality (near future kind of stuff) or, in some cases, it involves magical parallel realities where everyone has character sheets… for reasons.

As expected, the quality of these books are all over the board. There are some really good ones (see: Awaken Online), and some not so good ones, often involving toxic masculinity and harems 1. And some games literally describe the grinding process in a game; their idea of a character arc is reaching the next level.

But, set aside all these misfires, and there are some interesting ideas about society and a lot of opportunity here, especially when exploring how technology can reshape society. For a great example of a book that could (should… was?) have been great, and tried very hard to explore the implication of uploading our consciousness 2 using a compelling story 3, see: Fall or, Dodge in Hell.

Mine is a more comedic take on things. I do want to explore some of the more serious implications of how technology affects our society and our very humanity, but I was also annoyed at the utter absurdity in some of these books. A person is thrown, sometimes quite literally, into a game world, and it takes them all of five minutes to accept that this is their new reality? Yeah… I don’t think so.

So this is a book 4 where things go wrong. Where the main character doesn’t want to be trapped in a game world; where the game designers don’t want the main character to be in the game world; where… you know what? Nobody wants him there. But he’s there, and he can’t leave.

  1. I’m not kidding. Listen, I like romance done right and a harem is not that. At the first sign of one, I’m usually looking for a new book. 

  2. Successfully, I might add. I really liked the way he really explored the implications of humanity basically creating our own afterlife. 

  3. Not successfully. Very much not. The story line was all over the freaking place and I really tried to follow right up to the point I realized I’d completely lost interest in what was going on. I did not finish the book. 

  4. Might be a book if, you know, I actually write it. 

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The Devil's Bargain

May 20, 2020

The walls were rough-hewn stone, cold, unaffected by the fire of wrought iron torches that cast dancing shadows. The room was large enough to hold a hundred people, yet empty and oppressive, nothing but the damp encased in stone. It felt like a crypt ripped out of the medieval and made eternal, a place where science and technology had been forgotten, a place where gods and devils still roamed.

I could not recall how I’d gotten there, nor how long ago. I stretched my memory and found only this place. God’s clock had stopped, grinding to halt all that could be and turning a moment into eternity. I stood entombed in that moment, all memory and hope nothing but a dream of change.

Then the moment evaporated.

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One Hundred Wives

June 1, 2019

I stare at a teacup and silently watch the steam rise as it sends up whiffs of the exotic past my nose. It’s a sweet and spicy smell that I find appealing. The cup itself is beautiful, of course, with a gilded gold wrapping a wavy rim. The gild extends down each trough of the cup’s side where it disappears underneath. I wonder if the bottom is also gilded but it would be tricky to find out without spilling the tea. In the empty spaces are painted what I think are dragons in exquisite detail.

I do not drink the tea. Instead, I set the cup down and notice for the first time that the dragons continue onto the gilded saucer. Clever. I reposition the cup so the paintings match perfectly. Seems wrong to leave them broken. Both cup and saucer together probably cost more than most people’s homes.

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May 19, 2019

I never despised your presence, which warmed my house into a home.
I never hated your voice, which thawed my heart in a melodious tone.
I never loathed your smile, which brought light into my dark.
I never abhorred your hands, which enlightened my mind with your art.

No, I hated you for coming at all.

You brought me light and showed me how to live, then left me to die in the dark.
Only then did I grasp the lifeless silence, the cold black, the worthless mundane.
I had never understood those things before you.



April 5, 2019

The boy walked through the door to another world. He slowly stepped over to a table, his table, and took in every detail. He ran his finger across the wood and felt a scratch than ran from center to edge. He remembered the time he accidentally pulled a lamp off when he tripped over the cord. It had lost a foot then, gouging the wood as he fell to the floor in surprise. This scratch was his scratch but, he knew, not. He walked over to his bed and saw the same creases he’d left just that morning, exactly where they should be. He sat on it and noted the way it gave to his weight, precisely as it should. He ran his fingers through his sheets, noted the texture and feel, all exactly as if it were his own. He breathed deep, taking in the ever so light must that had accumulated from years of living. This was his world down to the most minute detail, even though he knew it was not.

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Facets of Love

February 15, 2019

“What is love?” asked the boy of the tortoise.

The tortoise said nothing at first, then slowly shifted his head to look at the peculiar creature that asked such a strange question.

“Why, love is but a long walk with a good friend,” the tortoise finally replied.

“Will you walk with me?” then asked the tortoise of the boy.

The boy nodded, but then after a few moments he sat down, for the tortoise is slow, and the boy did not know how to walk with one who moved so slowly.

The boy spotted a shiny rock and picked it up. He liked rocks and decided that this one was a good one, for it reflected a deep blue if he turned it just right in the sunlight. He dug out of his pocket a hand full of rocks with an astonishing variety of shapes and colors, all carefully picked and selected for their uniqueness. He carefully arranged them before him, and after some intense thought he took a white rock and set it aside. In its place, he put the blue one. The boy knew you could only carry so many rocks and he was determined to carry only the best.

The boy looked up to find the tortoise was gone and he was sad. He’d hoped to find out what love is, this thing so revered by others.

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