Circuit of Heavenby Dennis Danvers
An ingeniously original new voice in the realm of high quality SF, Dennis Danvers has seen tomorrowand it's the Bin: a vast network of silicon crystals into which twelve billion people have uploaded their personalities to live in crime-free, disease-free ad deathless virtual societies, leaving the dangerous and unpredictable Earth to a few stragglers, the creeps and the crazies, the religious fundamentalists and the rebels. Outsiders may visit the Bin for short stretches of time. But once they decide to stay. . .it's forever.
Nemo is an outsider. This is his coming-of-age story. And it begins on the occasion of his twenty-first birthday, when he reluctantly pays a visit to the parents who abandoned their flesh and their son for cyber-utopia. Nemo is a righteously angry young man determined to live, age, and die in a bleak, almost deserted earthy hell rather than sacrifice his body and soul to a technological purgatory.
Until Nemo meets the perfect womana newly arrived resident of the Bin named Justinea pop singer and beautiful enigma with an unsettling void in her past. And now Nemo the renegade is questioning everything he has ever fought for or against. But the strange dreams that come to Justine in the dark of the virtual night belong to somebody elseand they're leading two innocent young lovers into a dangerous mire of irreversible choice, and into the intricate machinery of devastation.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Newman Rogers had been erratic lately, despondent, flying into a rage over nothing, working into the wee hours of the morning. His coworkers would often find him sleeping on the sofa in the waiting room when they came into work in the morning, or even slumped over his computer. He was brilliant, a genius perhaps, but he was only one member of a team working to develop artificial intelligence and was not thought to be indispensable. Whatever he was working on so compulsivelyhe didn't share it with the rest of the teamsoon prompted him to cease work altogether on the job he was hired to do. Management was concerned.
And then, on a mid-December afternoon in 2020, he was fired for calling his supervisor an idiot. He was thirty nine, well thought of until recently, but under the terms of his contract he couldn't work on artificial intelligence research for any other firm for a period of two years, even though every other firm would only be interested in him for such research.
None of this seemed to concern him, however. He holed up in his apartment and continued to work, hacking his former employer's system late at night. A few months after his dismissal, he published an obscure paper demonstrating, with a string of elegant proofs, that artificial intelligence was impossible. He added, however, in a modest concluding paragraph, that it might be possible to digitize human personality and, building on techniques already in use in medicine and virtual reality simulations, transfer the personality to another organism, or even to another, more durable, medium altogether.
While competing theorists flung themselves at his proofs like a pack of skilled dogs, a smallgroup of wealthy and aging businessmen contacted him and offered to finance his research. Suddenly he found himself in charge of a team of researchers with almost limitless resources. In 2030, the first practical application of his work, the transfer of the identity of a ninety-seven-year-old owner of a large insurance company into the quick-grown clone of a healthy young man, was performed with complete success. Even young men eventually die, however, and Newman was encouraged to continue developing a more durable medium for human intelligence.
To help finance this venture, his backers, over his objections, marketed Constructshumans made from portions of several different personalities implanted into a cloned bodyas servants and laborers. To overcome customers' uneasiness with what some described as the new slavery, the clones, with increasingly clever, even entertaining gene splices, were made to look as if they weren't human. Unfortunately (and as Newman had predicted) the partial personalities that made up each Construct reconstituted themselves over the years, remembering their former lives and identities.
In 2040, Rogers succeeded in designing the Alternative Life Medium Assembly, ALMA for short, a vast network of silicon crystals in which any number of human personalities might dwell in a world they would experience as indistinguishable from the real world. The operating system could be programmed to eliminate disease, violence, and deathand it would last forever. He had invented paradise.
The new world government, shakily formed in 2036, sold the former site of the Pentagon for the construction of ALMA, dubbed "the Bin" by the media, a nickname that stuck. In 2050 it went on-line, and some half a million souls who could afford it entered their new world. In 2060, after ten years of mounting pressure from residents of the real world, ALMA was opened up to everyone eighteen years or older who did not scan as criminally insane. By 2074, the Supreme Court (the majority of whom now re sided in the Bin) lifted the ban against minors, so that anyone, young and old alike, might enter the Bin and live forever.
After a few years, the only people left in the real world were members of religious sects who believed the Bin to be in violation of God's laws; the criminally insane; and a handful of persons who, for one reason or another, stubbornly distrusted paradise. By 2080, the remaining population of the real world, not counting Constructs, was about 2.5 million, though reliable figures were hard to come by. The population of the Bin was over 12 billion.
As for Newman Rogers, the patron saint of ALMA, no one knew where he was or what he was doing, though rumors were plentiful.
Copyright ) 1998 by Dennis Danvers
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While perusing the scince fiction isle at a local book store. I happened to notice this books name. Intrigued, I read the back, and decided to give it a spin. A year later, and having read it many times over. It continues to to amaze me. It raises many a question of science, and ethnics. Love in a digital era, and with medical science making leaps and bounds. 'What happens, When living and dying becomes a personal descision.' I've since talked all my friends, and family members into reading this book. I'd recommend it to anyone. This was an absolutely wonderful novel.