PlotEditA bizarro parody of the movie Tron.
Technology has advanced to the level where electronic alternate worlds can actually be created and colonized by humans. The first such world to be developed was originally supposed to be based on the electronic world from the movie Tron, but due to legal complications with the Disney Corporation the developers decided to base it instead on a B-grade ripoff film called Cybernetrix. Although the movie was a failure, the electronic world of Cybernetrix has become so popular that it has changed our culture forever.
There is only one problem: the Cybernetrix world and the real world seem to be slowly bleeding together into one reality.
Carlton Mellick III's Cybernetrix is a bizarro satire set in a future world where '80s fads never went out of style, where society has completely lost interest in art and creativity, where reality is so damned boring that fantasy is the only thing left worth living for.
Erebus Elysium's ReviewEdit
TRIGGER WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD. SOME DETAILS HAVE BEEN OMITTED FOR THOSE WHO DECIDE TO READ THE BOOK. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
I myself have always been a fan of the "Computer Realm" trope that has become a recurring element since computers became advanced enough to build worlds. I was raised watching Reboot, Digimon, and The Matrix. Tron: Legacy made me a Daft Punk fan. The concept behind a world inside a computer console, an entire universe of mysteries crawling through the web like a colony of termites of every shape and size.
The virtual world of Cybernetrix does a good job of being appealing. If you get killed in some manner, you just reappear shortly after perfectly fine. While you can't taste or smell in this world, you can still see and feel and hear. You can customize your appearing, going from just being you to being somehting else. Bigger muscles, hotter body, younger face, you can even switch gender. You remeber that episode in Futurama where they go into that porn-site and you can meet people to have virtual sex with? Well they have that too. A room specifically for cyber-sex for those old enough. No STDs, no pregnancies, no rules (except rape). Sex sex sex, and with the customizable features on their identity disks, you can make yourself as both appealing an anonymous as you want. You can even switch your gender, and since you have your sense of touch, you can have a taste of any kind of pleasure.
Cybernetrix is truly a paradise... for the users that is. The AI admin programs have a hard time with it though, something that makes it no less shocking when they revolt. At least it wasn't as soul-crushingly traumatizing as Cuddly Holocaust.
On that note, I wish Carlton gave a little more detail to the real world. There is a underlying tone to the book that (as the summary above explains) explains how culture in the world (or America at the very least) has ceased to progress beyond the 1980's. The Atari 2600 is mentioned multiple times throughout the book, people still ride in DeLorians, and our main character even goes to see Ghostbusters 7. You heard me. Ghostbusters. 7.
Now I can't tell you how many thirty-going-on-forty year olds I have associated with wants such a thing to exist, but the book paints an 80's-ccentric America as a bad thing. Our hero is talented at illustration and the very basics of comic book writing and illustration and has even moved to Portland, Oregon to become a member of that very community, only for the movement to die-out as soon as he makes it there. The Atari 2600 has become a relevant and still active console despite it being decades after its original release. The Ghostbusters apparently devolved into a buddy-cop moving starring an incredibly old Dan Akroyd and his wacky comic relief sidekick Slimer. I'm pretty sure that Cybernetrix is the most advanced thing in ths world.
This has pushed humanity to despise the real and has pushed a majority of the population into playing Cybernetrix, their culture having become so stagnant and imbred that it has robbed society's interest in it, and the book actually does do a fine enough job of illustrating this. You could understand why you would banish yourself to a world full of neon colors and endless entertainment every chance you had. I'm not sure if that was the intention, but the real world really lacks in substancial details in order to get a full picture.
And when the programs invade the real world, they use the comatosed bodies of the Users to manifest in the real world. They explain that their bodies biologically suit their Cybernetrix identities organically, but it fails to explain how it also carries over their neon-lighting and their technology, flora, fauna and so on. Or at least I missed it.
The book also seems to have an interest in the time honor question: what makes us human? Here it comes in the form of our main characters Wesley and an AI program Xiva23. Wesley fall in love with Xiva23, confiused about his feelings. Everyone tell him she's just a program, while he is the only one that treats her like an equal. In-turn, Xiva23 has picked him as a favorite, favoring him over other Users, and even has sex with him (something believed to be impossible for a 'bot' like her to do). They draw parallels between computer programming and chemicals in the brain, how "love" and other such things are simple one's-and-zero's within individual's neural capacities. Its an engaging stage of developement I must say.
On the whole, if you have never actually read a Bizarro Book in your life, I highly recommend starting with this one. It's engaging enough for you to keep reading, its weird enough to give you a taste of the genre, but not so outlandish that it would alienate the reader. It has its flaws, sure, but I love it to pieces.
I'm giving it 4 cups of Electric Tea out of 5.