In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

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In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by JohnDurvin » June 6th, 2011, 2:42 pm

First draft of first chapter of a sort of post-cyberpunk/absurdist-dystopian thing. I know it goes all over the place, but that's kind of the point.

Simon was parked on an overturned laundry basket in front of his bedroom screen, which was set to ‘mirror’; it was really just a cam on the frame feeding back to the screen, but the program cleverly flipped the image so it was just like a real mirror--with better resolution. There was a picture-in-picture of a newsfeed, where a mustachio'd Snaximum Food Systems exec was explaining that his company's subsidiary,Taco-Bot, used only the finest rich Corinthian beef. He was trying to pick a pattern for his tie, and was watching his reflection thumb through tie-skins on his super-g. He’d really hoped to spend some time thinking about it and pick a good one, but it had taken half an hour to clip the tie on, no thanks to the asinine how-to videos he’d skimmed. The tie-pattern site he'd found was beaming him low-rezz previews, but they never looked as good on Simon’s tie as they did in the thumbnails. Finally a stroke of genius hit him--he looped a vid of a treasured memory he and Bennie shared from the day they’d met. Chicks loved that kind of smarm. They had each come on separate vacations to the Magic Kingdom borough of Wang City (formerly known as the Florida Peninsula), and they’d just bumped into each other in line at a pot-brownie stand when an obese man puttered past on a scooter and, distracted from his steering by Bennie’s perky teenage breasts, had crashed into a tree. Watching the video loop a few times on his tie, Simon had to sigh warmly and smile.

When he stood up, he realized that he’d spent so long with his tie, he hadn’t actually put any pants on yet. Impulsively, he took a vid of himself waving his penis around and yelling ‘happy anniversary, baby!’, and sent it to Bennie’s phone; as an afterthought uploaded to a greeting-card site, where hopefully it would get him enough hitts and qools to get them a nice dinner; by the time his rocket-ship briefs and matching socks were pulled on, he grinned to see that he’d gotten over a hundred hitts and three dozen qools, enough to get some jello-shots and ginseng pretzels at the ball-game they were headed to.

“Great vid, Simon!” Bennie cried, bounding in like a puppy from the living room. “I made a dance mix for you, too.” Like many, she made her living turning sound-bytes and sound effects into viral dance hits; she played the catchy little mix for him, dancing awkwardly as it looped. She had her hair done up in a little bun with chopsticks through it, and her strapless dress was a rich green. Simon thought at first it was real fabric, but then a cartoon lizard crawled up the hem and across her belly.

“Qool,” Simon said into his super-g. Bennie’s phone buzzed acceptance of the hitt from inside her purse. “You ready to go?”

“You still need pants,” purred Bennie with a giggle. Simon held his super-g up.

“I forgot to put on pants,” he announced to it and the world for a few dozen hitts, mostly from family and friends--it was a pretty funny vid, but the net was flooded with identical ones. Bennie didn’t even bother remixing it.

Simon and Bennie didn’t talk much on the walk to the stadium, as both of them were busy watching video greetings from kinfolks and texting various well-wishers about how excited they were about their anniversary date. Among the throngs a picturesque old man with a mustache was selling flowers, and he recognized Simon from the greeting-card he’d uploaded--street vendors that made a living off special occasionas always followed those schmaltzy tubes with otaku diligence--and said he had a free bouquet for them if they’d tagg him and qool him, which Simon readily agreed to, having forgotten to set his super-g to remind him to buy some flowers of his own. Bowing low on one leg, he presented the bouquet to Bennie with all the finesse of someone that had planned the whole thing, and she gasped and laughed, clapping as she took it. Passers-by caught it on their super-g’s and applauded, tagging the vid as the most romantic thing they’d seen all day, linking further qools to Simon and Bennie’s own profiles. What a beautiful day it was turning out to be!

A few blocks more and the stadium loomed into view on the horizon like some tremendous monument, and Simon and Bennie got in line for entrance; the line went from C Street to J, and they weren’t last for long. The stadium was already firing salvos of maps to concession stands and links to merch sites for the various teams. Simon clicked through one and bought them both caps in the purple, green, and silver colors of the home team, Regulus Telecom Presents the BosWash Ninjas; in a few minutes a courier rode up on a scooter and handed the hats to them. Bennie had to take her hair down to fit the hat on, letting her wavy ketchup-red tresses dance around her freckled shoulders like snakes on a maypole. She handed the chopsticks to Simon, who spent the next block’s span of waiting doing a walrus impression to much hilarity; she looped his capers to a dubstep sample and the resulting vid was briefly a top-hundred clip on the distributor’s website.
As they neared the stadium, brick-and-mortar kiosks of snacks and swag started to crop up along the broad sidewalks, some of them motorized to increase potential face-time. One particularly seedy-looking one singled Simon out, probably because of the anniversary card he’d made earlier, and just when it was in range, it fired a couple of bat-like pop-ups at him and Bennie, advertising male enhancement grafts, “good time party love” singles, the local chapter of the underground resistance. Deftly Simon dispatched them, brandishing his super-g like an action-hero’s pistol, and Bennie quickly tagged the motor-cart as malware; within seconds a firewall was up around it, and a lumbering security-bot was on its way from the stadium’s user-protection station.

“My hero,” Bennie chirped to Simon, kissing him on the cheek. “You’ll like this, too--Regulus just got a new batch of bots for the playoffs, big gorilla-looking mofos.”

“Really?” Simon grinned. Sure enough the car-size bot stumped up, resting its weight on forearms like trash-cans--one purple, one green--as it scanned the rogue cart with a dozen sparkling eyes. While the bot checked the kiosk’s keys and ownership, it blindly fired a few poppers at the ape-machine, sealing its fate as the ads burst against the firewall. The bot’s chrome skull opened and its deadly erasure-gun emerged, blasting away at the cart until it was wiped clean. Finally the bot dropped the firewall and lifted the dead-screened husk onto one shoulder like a longshoreman hoisting a drum of oil and headed for the stadium’s recycling dumpsters. Simon, Bennie, and the other spectators uploaded the video for one or two hundred hitts--just as the stadium’s owners had hoped they would--and Bennie looped some footage of the gorilla so that it appeared to be dancing to an ancient Glenn Miller track.

“Simon, it’s your mother,” a voice muttered from Simon’s super-g. “See, I got a cool app that overrides your ringtone so I can start talking at you. You got tagged in a vid not five seconds ago--your father and I are watching you in the family room. Pick up.” Simon waggled a knavish middle finger to his parents as he fished his super-g out of his pocket.

“Oh, that’s very nice, Simon,” his father muttered. “Where else has that finger been?”

“Hi, mom, hi, dad,” he said.

“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Kash4Goldz,” Bennie said.

“Mr. what?” Simon’s father asked. “Did we lose the hot dog stand contract?”

“Yes, we did, Mr. Kash4Goldz, since you couldn’t remember it when we had it,” Simon’s mother scolded, smacking him gently upside the head. They were nestled in a pair of flower-patterned recliners in their sixteenth-story apartment in SoCal, a roller coast zipping by on the track outside. “Hello, Bennifer. Oh, you look so pretty. Doesn’t she look pretty, Fitty?”

“Yeah, I’d hit that, absolutely, Khloe,” his father said. “Nice work, son.”

“Thanks, dad,” Simon grinned. “How’s it hanging with you guys these days?”

“Like a god-damn Clydesdale,” Simon’s father said. “You?”

“I dunno, ask your mom,” Simon retaliated. They all laughed.

“Look, Simon, I see your line is moving--we just called to wish you a happy anniversary,” his mother said. “You two have a good time, all right?”

“Sure thing, mom, thanks,” he said. He tapped the call shut on his super-g.

“Kash4Goldz? Wow,” Bennie mewed. “Are they doing okay?”

“Not great, no,” Simon sighed. “For a while, they’d been endorsing Sammitch Clown, but you know, my dad’s been on memory boost meds for a while now, and then there was that big Endless PharmaDyne recall on the mem supplements. There were generics he could get, but he never remembered to order ‘em, you know? Then he got caught on a viral vid eating a burger at Kenta-Kun Kyoto Fried Chicken, and they got dropped, which sucks since Sammitch Clown is part of the Snaximum Food System, which is part of the big Regulus/Snaximum conglomerate. I’m surprised the stadium net let their call come in, honestly.”

“Suckage,” Bennie said, pulling out her own super-g and sending them a pity-cred through a charity tube--an equivalent for a qool, usually reserved for disaster victims but increasingly for anyone having trouble. “Hey, when they change their name, do they change yours too?”

“Bitch, please,” Simon smirked. “They’re just trying to help out their retirement fund--I’ve got a real job. I’d have to be in pretty dire straits before I did surname endorsement. I’ve been Simon F. Garfunkle all my life, and I plan to keep it that way.”

“Why the fuck did they name you that, anyway?” Bennie asked.

“After some singer, I think,” he answered.

After an hour or so, they’d pressed their way through the turnstile and into the stadium--they, like everyone else, had bought their tickets online, it was just a matter of fitting everyone through the doors. Their super-g’s directed them to their seats, northeast quadrant, row eighty-five, section F--turn left, sixty feet, turn right. Regulus Telecom had gone all out for the playoffs, granting each quadrant a row of Uber-Tron screens to watch the highlights and even widening all the data-bands so everyone could link their super-g’s to each of the overhead cameras to watch all the angles at will. Despite the constant reminders, Bennie and Simon had forgotten to stop at the concession stands, but luckily there were vendors walking around with hand-trucks of sides and combo-meals from the various Snaximum Food Systems chains, so Simon spent the qools from his greeting-card fame on a carton of Sammitch Clown caffeinated mozzarella sticks and Taco-Bot hash taquitos; another vendor sold them each a few beers and jell-o shooters, and they were set for the game.

“Pretty awesome seats,” Bennie remarked to him. “How’d you score these bitches?”

“Told the boss it was research for a column on the history of the game?” Simon smirked. “It’s only a few decades old, honestly, but I think I can still wring a column out of it.” Simon’s natural curious streak had lead to him posessing a preternatural collection of trivia--much of it stored in his own meatware memory, unusual for the time--and a few blog posts had gotten him enough hitts that he’d been parleyed into writing ‘Know What, Dawg?’, a fun-fact column for one of BosWash’s biggest local newspapers, the Epic Bugle (also a Regulus/Snaximum subsidiary).

“Decades?” Bennie razzed in disbelief. “I’ve seen old-timey shit with people playing it--some kind of crazy, stripped-down version, but I just figured the past was boring.”

“No, see, originally, there were all these separate leagues that used to push the government around into building them stadiums and shit by leveraging their pull with consumers or something,” Simon said. “Finally the government got sick of it and built the ballgame stadiums and mushed together all the games, so nobody would need to go anywhere else.” He was never sure if Bennie was listening to him when he went on those tangental lectures; she asked him questions, sure, and he always made sure to answer them as best he could without too much answering, but he sometimes suspected she just did it because she liked him as background noise. She rarely remixed his tidbits, but he wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or an insult.

Even so, he would still have a column to write, so he went through the game in his head. Prior to each match, the referee rolled 3d6 to choose how many players each team would field at a time. Everyone filed on and commenced playing. The field was strewn haphazardly with props--each team had a goal, of course, with a hoop over a net, and there was a ring of bases in the middle; the outfield was littered with trees, springboards, melee weapons, kegs. Any number of balls and pucks were released by the referees, and they were all in play at once; spectators were encouraged to throw more in as the game progressed. Each team’s coach employed a small army of assistant coaches that tracked every single player’s movements, shouting defensive maneuvers as the opposing team now kicked a field goal, now rolled a spare, now stole third, firing paintball rifles and bowling googlies all the while. Simon preferred the stealthy guerilla warfare of the cross-country basemen, but Bennie’s favorite was when someone would hit a bonus bumper and the goal-nets would smash together on tracks so the goalies would have to fight a quick steel-cage match before anyone could score, because those guys were always scrappers. She’d snuck onto the field after one fine match against the Charlanta Carnosaurs, and she’d found three teeth from her favorite goalie--they were on a necklace around her neck even then.

Suddenly the house-lights died and, despite being topless and open-air, the stadium went near-black under the shade of the sprawling view-screens and wiring rigs. Suspense built for a few seconds, and fog machines began to churn under the stands, billowing ammonia-scented smoke out from under everyone’s feet. “Ladies and gentlemen, Regulus TeleCom, maker of the new Teagan 3Z5 line of super-genius phones, is proud to bring you the first game of this year’s ballgame playoffs. Please rise for the national anthem.” A lone spotlight picked out a blonde woman from one of the luxury boxes, tracing her steps along a lighted path like a runway to a glowing platform at the center of the field. She swayed like a tiger as she walked; she carried a designer clutch-purse and a half-empty bottle of caffeinated rum, and her dress was made up of a strategically placed scarf that wound around her body six times. When she mounted the stairs and took her place under the tremendous vent of the central air conditioner, here functioning as a wind machine for drama, her tremendous coiffure undulated and writhed its sun-colored tendrils in the wind like some magnificent golden tentacle-beast in the act of devouring the woman’s gorgeously-rendered head; the hentai-like effect was heightened as the scarf was blown off by the violent wind of the AC, and it was not entirely clear whether the audience was supposed to think it was an accident or not. Now nude besides her eight-inch heels, her body glitter, and her ostentatious three wedding rings, she took a super-g from an attending referee and held it to her mouth. Every Uber-Tron in the stadium showed her twinkling, sparkling face.

“Oh beautiful, four spacious skies, oh, and her ways of grain,” she sang. Simon tried vainly to remember who the woman was; she was slightly too tall for Pop Star 218, too short for 232, and she might have been Actress 339, except she would have had to have gotten her trademark Marilyn Monroe mole removed, and she had gotten it proudly cloned from the original. The entertainment industry had gotten so that female celebrities were so interchangeable that there was no point in learning their names anymore; Simon suspected they were vat-grown with a random sampling of DNA from supermodels and cheerleaders, but he had no research to back it up. They sure didn’t look like real people, too lithe and sultry to be appealing in any sort of concrete way--sure, he was more than happy to look at one naked, but he was glad he had a lanky, dorky DJ to come home to at night. “Because I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free,” the singer went on. The crowd was getting bored now, even with the woman’s patriotic gyrating and thrusting; Simon guessed the underlit sea of faces represented at least half had pulled out their phones. “And crown the good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea...” Here she crescendo’d with an amazingly high note, as per tradition, so piercing it had to have been super-tuned by Regulus’ deluxe equipment. Even so, most people looked up, like dogs to a silent whistle, possibly because they knew the high note signalled that the song was near over. “...With liberty and justice for all! Amen.” Despite the fact that the majority of the audience had nodded off, her big finish was met with a round of applause, cat-calls, and camera flashes. She flourished, waved, shaking her luxurious hair and cupping her tremendous breasts, and was finally escorted off the stage by a referee in a striped tuxedo. Once she was safely off the field, another referee, this one’s stripes adorning a suit of body-armor of the sort used by riot police, took the center stage.

“Pop Star 240, everybody!” he called out. Everyone applauded again.

“I thought 240 drove her limo off the retaining wall in BajaltaCal,” Simon whispered to Bennie.

“That was 241, the one with the dimples.”

The referee churned through a spiel about how exciting the match was going to be, how wonderful the teams were, how hard they’d trained, how great all the Regulus TeleCom equipment around the stadium was, how delicious and refreshing all the fine Snaximum products available were, including Taco-Bot’s new Nachos Borachos with the alcohol-infused cheese-sauce. Once he’d wrapped that up, the stadium ran a few previews on the Uber-Trons--the series finale of “TTLY Princess Meowzy”, a teaser for “Godzilla Versus Dracula”, the latest Sexington Warhead action-cop flick--and then the referee began listing the home team players’ names and jersey numbers as they filed onto the field in matching green, purple, and chrome.

“You wanna see ‘Godzilla Versus Dracula?’” Simon asked Bennie.

“Yeah, I like the director, what’s-his-name,” she told him. “He did that version of ‘Jane Eyre’ that came out a few years ago; that was pretty good. I never saw the ending coming, when it turned out her pimp had been a vampire all along.”

“That was pretty good, yeah,” Simon grinned. He was about to ask what she’d thought about the time-travel sub-plot, but before he could, the referee that was leading the roll-call cried out and fell from the platform as the away team’s star, a charismatic brute called the Liger, clambered up, shouting and posturing, proposing that the entire home team collectively perform the impossible act.

“First name: The!” he bellowed to much hollering from the spectators. The referees made a show of trying to yank him down, but Simon knew that as a celebrity, the Liger enjoyed certain privileges--namely, all of them. “Middle name: Liger! Last name: fuck you!” Flexing his muscles, he burst his red, black, and gold jersey to shreds; this was the staff’s cue to finally pull him off the stage and act like the breach of decorum had been some greivious dishonor against the BosWash home team. Their own star player, a ‘face’ called Buddy Wholesome, came out an apologized for his ‘heel’ colleague’s behavior and hoped it hadn’t ruined anyone’s evening with the national pastime. Everyone toasted him with their jell-o shooters and alcoholic nachos and qooled him on their super-g’s.

Once all the names and numbers had been called out, the first game of the playoffs began: Regulus TeleCom Presents the BosWash Ninjas versus the Carnifex Corporation’s ChiPitts KillDroids. The government owned the league and the stadiums, but allowed the corporations to sponsor the teams, as per tradition. The Ninjas and the Killdroids were bitter rivals, but then again all the teams were bitter rivals; that was just something the advertisers threw into the promos and proplas to make things seem more dramatic. The Liger ran several touch-downs and line-drives, knocking several point-guards and outfielders unconscious in the process; Buddy Wholesome hit a line drive to the endzone and ran three homers before the bludger could get the ball back to them, and then Wholesome faked out the KillDroids’ shortstop and slapped the ball straight between the goalie’s knees for ten points.

“Bennie, can I ask you something?” Simon asked.

“Do I have to answer you?” she smirked.


“Oh--okay, sure,” Bennie said, turning to face him and crossing her legs. She furrowed her brow and stared intently at him, frowning. “Serious face engaged. Speak.”

“Does life ever feel a little pointless to you?” he asked. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have a great time--”
“Does life ever feel a little pointless to you? Pointless to you? Pointless to you?” said his voice from Bennie’s super-g. She’d mixed it.

“Bennie, come on--”

“Hang on,” she said, demanding his silence with a raised finger while she conducted a furious symphony with her free thumb. “Uploading, and...done. Okay, what were you saying?”

“Lately I’ve just been feeling like there’s something not right,” Simon said. “Like my brain’s giving me an alert message that I can’t quite see--like something’s throwing off my chakras or something. Like there’s something I should be paying attention to, but I keep forgetting to remember it.”

“Are you getting a not-so-fresh feeling?” Bennie hazarded.

“No,” he sighed sharply. “It’s just--I’m constantly on the look-out for new information, right? These days it’s for my column, but I did it before I had it. I just like learning, like some kind of weird self-expanding encyclopedia. I keep learning new things, about the literally hundreds of years of history that have lead up to all of this, and then I’m just sitting here with an alcoholic energy drink in one hand and a hallucinogenic mushroom cheeseburger in the other, surrounded by dead-eyed nincompoops whose main purpose in life is to chauffeur a phone around that’s smarter than they are, and we’re all just cramming our faces and bending our biochemistry, watching amalgamated clones of dead celebrities bash each other with clubs and throw balls in baskets, and it all just feels so...facile.”

“Hmm. Yeah, facile,” she said, nodding gravely. She was trying to look still more serious to distract him from the fact that she was subtly looking the word up on her super-g. Figuring there was nothing to do but wait, he turned his attention down to the field; dramatic tension had risen to the point that Buddy and the Liger had come together to face off dramatically, and after chasing one another around with paintball rifles for a few minutes, had collided into an epic close-range fencing match that was slowly backing up the stairs to the referees’ platform where 240 had sung the national theme song before the opening credits. Ten minutes later, he remembered that he’d been waiting for Bennie to respond; he looked over at her, and she was watching the game contentedly. He hoped she’d found her definition and looked over at him, but he couldn’t remember it happening, and in truth he’d forgotten what they were talking about. Oh, well. Take that, you Liger bastard!
Last edited by JohnDurvin on June 6th, 2011, 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Everybody loves using things as other things, right? Check out my blog at the Cromulent Bricoleur and see one hipster's approach to recycling, upcycling, and alterna-cycling (which is a word I just made up).

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Re: In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by Leonidas » June 6th, 2011, 7:04 pm

I was interested by the subject of this topic, but I can't ever make myself read a big block of text -- could you space it out for us a little?

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Re: In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by NickB » August 19th, 2011, 8:44 pm

Hey John. Can't believe I'm the first to say so: this is hilarious! Lots of laugh-out-loud moments.

This is my first time reading in this genre. You'll have to recommend some fave authors.:)

Not sure what you want in the way of critique. Do you know where you're going with it or are you totally pantsing it?

So, impressions: I feel an affinity with the characters. Definitely hope for better things for this guy...that he'll somehow break out of this, but don't have a clue how that would come about. Which is good at this point, because you've made the people fun and I'll follow them into chapter two, to find out where they're going.
I might like a tiny bit more of a hint right at the beginning (not sure how you'd go about it without blowing the end of the chapter, but...) that he's not quite as dopey as the people currently surrounding him. At first, he doesn't necessarily seem like the most wonderful, intelligent, amazing human who ever lived. What I'm saying is, I guess I was a little unsure I wanted to follow HIM--but just for the first few paragraphs. It was the humor and just plain good writing (flow, voice, etc.)that kept me in there at first.

Hope you post more here. Nick

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Re: In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by Evelyn » August 20th, 2011, 12:12 pm

I agree with everything NickB said.

When I clicked on your thread, I have to say I was in a bit of a rush and had no intention of reading the whole thing because really, I didn't have the time - but I couldn't stop reading, ha! As well as your great story with all the hilarious, insane little touches (I love it when she asks if he's feeling "Not so fresh" and then she has to look up the word "facile" and immediately forgets what he was talking about) I thought the writing itself was very smooth and readable and colorful. I had no trouble at all following any of it. I like the way you write.

But I wonder how you can keep up this level of intense absurdity for an entire novel? Perhaps this would work as the beginning of a short story?

I loved it, good work.

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Re: In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by Philabuster » September 1st, 2011, 4:37 pm

Congratulations! Nobody can ever tell you that you don't have an imagination haha!

Personally I really liked it. Iv often envisioned life a century from now (I'm really guessing on how far in the future ur story is) and I also see a world run by advertisements, promotions, corporations, etc. What I liked the most was the integration of technology. Meaning smartphones that link you to your seat at a ball park, attacking malware on a literal level, and clothing that's interactive. All of these things I found the be very fun, and it also made me want to read more.

Although it was hinted at at the very end of the excerpt, I'm not entirely sure (and very curious) about what the conflict is/will be. Obviously Simon (love his name!) shows some angst about the world he lives in, even if he can't really identify it. But will he battle a large corporate entity or will he battle himself?

I also had no problem reading this but I agree with Evelyn, it might be hard to keep up this pace through an entire novel. My suggestion would be to walk the line that is absurd but also relatable. Keep it fun but interesting at the same time. Right now it reads kind of like an in depth Idiocracy. Obviously that movie was meant to be funny, are you trying to be funny too or are you trying to tell a story with a deep seeded message about the future that where are destined to arrive at, and the struggles of creativity, individuality, and simplicity that comes with such a future? Personally I would prefer to read about the latter.

All in all great work so far!!

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Re: In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by JohnDurvin » January 17th, 2012, 11:48 am

I'm really glad everybody's liking this so much! I have a problem with my ideas being too weird for prose, but I think the emerging genre of post-cyberpunk is a good fit. It's stories about how technology takes over peoples lives and enslaves them and so on, but instead of the bleak, dystopian style of old-school cyberpunk (think "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and such), everybody's pretty cheerful; a lot of them are set in post-scarcity worlds, where everybody gets whatever they want and thus never develop beyond mental childhood. It's new enough that I don't know a lot of authors doing it; "Snow Crash" is called the first work of it, but it's more of a parody of William Gibson's "Neuromancer" and such, so it's a lot darker and denser than others. The style's been around for years, actually, just not in books, probably for the same reason that my crazy worlds don't always work on the page--the first work I know of would be the movie "Just Imagine", a comedy from the 1930's set in the 1980's. The case could probably be made for parts of "Brave New World", even. "Futurama" is another good example, and if we include hyper-advanced alien societies instead of just humanity's future, Douglas Adams counts. John Kendrick Bangs wrote a Lewis Carroll parody called Alice in Blunderland ( that's making fun of the notion of post-scarcity banned word and the misuse of technology (funnier than it sounds!) Heck, "Wall-E" could work, now that I think about it. I've never really figured out how far ahead my book is supposed to be happening, but if we imagine a lot of the genre's works as a chronology, you can figure this is about halfway through the world's progression from "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" to Mike Judge's "Idiocracy", and probably about contemporary with Woody Allen's "Sleeper."

Unfortunately, all of that said, the novel's on hold right now; I had a lot of work done on it when my laptop died, and while I had backup, it all is apparently saved in a format that no other computer in the world can read anymore. (Let that be a lesson to everyone--don't just backup, but also check your backups to make sure they're good!) Once I get an obscure cable, I can get all the stuff off it and get back to work, but for the moment I'm concentrating on the webcomic listed in my signature, which if it isn't post-cyberpunk yet, will be as its scope expands.
Everybody loves using things as other things, right? Check out my blog at the Cromulent Bricoleur and see one hipster's approach to recycling, upcycling, and alterna-cycling (which is a word I just made up).

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Re: In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by madmcgee » January 17th, 2012, 3:27 pm

The writing is pithy and believable. I like how you integrate the backstory with the action without going into endless amounts of exposition. The world so far is believable. You do a very good job introducing likeable characters, creating a plausible setting, and establishing the beginnings of a conflict in the first chapter, which is difficult to do. This is not really a favorite genre of mine, but I would definitely read more.

My one suggestion has to do with pacing. Some really good laughs (as well as what feel like important plot devices) are lost in the super long paragraphs. Line by line, this works really well, but I had to stop and imagine paragraph breaks in many places. I would like it far more if you emphasized plot points and zingers by setting them apart in new, shorter paragraphs. The paragraph breaks as they are now just don't reflect the line by line pithiness of the story.

I do love, love, love, how you integrate slang and asides with a light voice into a well-written, professional piece. So many writers think they need to establish a "clever" voice with illiterate writing and overuse of slang. I love that you show this voice in the dialogue while maintaining integrity within your prose.

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Re: In the Land of the Super-Geniuses

Post by kabbu » February 23rd, 2012, 10:04 pm

I love the concept, and your writing is very sharp.

As others have mentioned, you need to work on the pacing a bit, as there's a lot that happens in a giant block of totally unrelated text. It works tremendously in some places (like your opening paragraph with the tie) but in others it made me feel like my eyes were drying out because I didn't have time to blink.

I'm also not convinced that we're close enough to the catalyst to really start the story. It feels like we could be starting the story a bit later on, but don't really know that much without knowing what the actual conflict in the story is.

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