Thursday, April 7, 2022

Meta by Xander Black - Book Tour



2065: the streets are abandoned, shops are empty, parks are silent. But is that really much of a surprise when you can connect to the Cybernet?

 Everyone can turn on, log in and drop out.

 Cyrus, a failed physicist, and drop-out game designer Everett are on the cusp of their big breakthrough into the meta ranks of Neverborn, the world’s most popular game.

 But when several high-profile avatars disappear, and their human counterparts are found dead, Cyrus and Everett find themselves under suspicion. They must clear their names and unravel the deeper mysteries of Brith and the Neverborn. In doing so, they will uncover a dark secret that threatens not only the game-world but the safety of their physical realm.

 Satire, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery combine in an epic adventure where no one ever leaves home…

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Brith was vast and the most common way to avoid long travel was through dimensional gateways. They could take you from point A to B in a matter of minutes rather than requiring the usual hours or even days of travel. The Dimension Gate spell was available to high-level mages, or by engaging the services of one. Even then, very few chose to actually use them for several reasons:

Most didn’t have access to the spell or could afford a mage’s gateway fee.

The Brith countryside was awe-inspiringly beautiful to wander, filled with many idyllic picnic spots to eat lunch.

The gateways were four-dimensional virtual space. Not only did many get lost and end up in the wrong spot, but the experience made many ill, making it the perfect spot to lose the lunch you’d have otherwise enjoyed at one of those picnic spots.

Entering four-dimensional cyberspace was one of the most mind-bending activities you could do in VR. In 2041, Anton Singh was studying for his PhD in theoretical physics at MIT, when it occurred to him that it was perfectly plausible to create four dimensional virtual spaces. The main hurdle, of course, was that humans weren’t equipped with the necessary sensory inputs to perceive the fourth spatial dimension in all its magnificence. This all changed with the advent of the Virtech® helms. With just a few firmware tweaks, Anton was able to create four dimensional avatars, with three eyes, ears and additional limbs with which to observe and navigate the environment more easily. These monstrous creations were affectionately referred to as Cubinoids for their resemblance to certain artworks from the mid-20th century. Connecting via Virtech® to a Cubinoid was a challenge for many to process. The additional sensory inputs took more than a few minutes to adjust to. Actually moving around a four-dimensional space was a mind opening experience and 4D vertigo was common. The spaces themselves were immaculately detailed and constructed. Light fall, shadows, gravity and even four-dimensional acoustics were all calculated with accuracy using Singh’s carefully designed algorithms. Anton himself would go on to expand his algorithms to create both five and six dimensional spaces. In six dimensions it appeared he reached the limits of what the human mind could endure and after a mere five-minute exposure, his once brilliant mind was reduced to that of a blithering idiot. His research, however, did go on to earn him his PhD from MIT. Some would say he wasn’t the first blithering idiot to achieve this.

 Guest Post
The Metaverse is coming.  Not Facebook’s attempt at rebranding itself, I mean a real universe of virtual destinations with new locales popping up daily.  People will dive into their special interests like never before.  They’ll create personalized realities around themselves. The divide between people’s world views will increase.  It’s a place of immense possibility, but also scary as hell.

 There’ll be big players in this new world. An open-source engine behind a universal VR rendering system will emerge. But someone will profit from it initially. The biotech makers of human interfaces will be a crucial infrastructure supplier.  Already neuroscience is unravelling and visualizing the thoughts of the human brain. A mind-based interface, that makes the idea of 3D goggles seem silly, will eventually be realized.  Wireless data speeds will surpass 1Tb per second. Everyone will be connected 24/7.

 But then there’s also the world builders.  The people behind the destinations and stories everyone is visiting. Who wouldn’t want to live a life limited only by imagination?  Status and wealth have no significance in a world where everyone is fulfilled.  It’s a new era for humanity, where we’re not defined by careers, but by our interests… after all, we’re all galactic conquerors, knights, wizards, or maybe just living quietly on a farm with our loved ones.

Speaking of love, what happens when physical attraction is removed from the equation?  When everyone appears handsome and beautiful in cyberspace, will the connections between people become more real, or will they remain artificial as we devolve into superficiality? 

How will companies engage in the Metaverse?  What’s the opportunity for them to promote their brands and create virtual products?  The cyber economy will be a world economy, but how will it function?

And what sort of crimes will emerge in virtual spaces?  Is there even a need for crime when everyone has what they need?  Can people simply play out their criminal fantasies in virtual environments with no real-world consequences?

When we imagine a Metaverse, we don’t always think about its full impact on the human condition.  How it will change society at its core.  We’re decades, maybe a century away from realizing the tech and infrastructure required, but the Metaverse is coming. It’s inevitable.  We can begin the debate now, whether such a society is utopian or dystopian. Whether cyber-dependency could lead to societal dysfunction and collapse. The future has a way of playing out differently to how everyone expects. Perhaps we can speculate at the possibilities… but is it really that useful… or are our thoughts just meta? 


Author bio:

Xander Black wasted a lifetime creating cheap disposable ideas to sell cheap disposable products. He’s now focused on creating cheap disposable stories. When not writing he’s reading, watching film & TV, hanging with Sarah, Hesper, and Hattie, and occasionally playing the odd video game. He has a few more stories brewing that may be disposed of soon.



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