Years of writing and rewriting this novel and peddling it around to dozens of agents have made me realize it could eventually be overcome by events and never be read. This is a hard-SF cyberpunk novel that I wrote in 2003, and have been rewriting ever since.
Here’s the pitch:
The cycs are not a computer virus destroying the Internet as everyone thinks, but a sentience naturally evolved out of our information systems. Flatline, a hacker with seemingly supernatural powers over information systems and a demonically disfigured avatar, has assumed leadership of the AI hive, overseeing their domination of the World Wide Web and plots their conquest of the world outside it.
Zai, handle “BlackSheep,” a blind girl in a world where medical science has all but eliminated the condition, travels to find her missing online friend Omni; however, an emotionally traumatic childhood experience with a virtual friend will not allow her to believe in the possibility of Artificial Intelligence.
Devin, handle “Omni,” straddles both worlds, the virtual and the physical. He sees a war, where one side’s victory, human or artificial intelligence, means the tragic demise of the other’s entire civilization. When Flatline locks him out of the Internet, Devin must successfully navigate the strange, alien world known as Real Life if he is to prevent total tragedy.
What are the ethical dilemmas we face as chatbots grow so convincing, they begin to deceive people, especially children? How will culture evolve in a world where we cannot build on others’ ideas because everything is copyrighted or patented? Who owns emergent intelligence in information systems? It provokes speculation as it entertains.
Also available as a free downloadable PDF. Lemme know what you think, even if it’s harsh criticism. : )
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License, meaning you can make all the copies you want, remix it, rewrite it, and even make money off it, but you have to give me credit for the original work and you have to give your derivatives a similar copy-left license.
To make writing derivatives easier, here’s the word document.
Have fun with it!
I also have a sequel written, titled Entropy of Imagination, which I will post sometime this summer once I have it polished. It will also be CC’ed.