Caffeine by Ryan Grabow
English | 2019| Sci-Fi| PDF reader, | 1.6 MB
Brandon Dauphin is a citizen of a rapidly changing world. Shocking trends emerge on a daily basis, the loudest music is the best music, and the powerful stimulant PJX is found in almost everything edible (by popular demand). The economy is sagging again, and artificial intelligence technology has matured enough to become a low-cost replacement for customer service workers. “Amai” look and act just like people, appearing in the real world as holograms, or within the many simulations of Dynamic Reality (DR), a global network which has rendered fantasy every bit as real as reality.
As everyone in his generation heeds the command to indulge, Brandon is overcome by the sense that life has become cheap and fleeting. He failed at finding a career, and everything else in his life is growing similarly distant. His only hope left is Veronica, a woman he met in DR, in a chance encounter that saved her from suicide. Their long-distance relationship doesn’t fail like the others, and Brandon realizes that he’s fallen in love. He plans to propose marriage, in person, on New Years’ Day. If she doesn’t say yes, though, Brandon knows there will be nothing left for him.
With no work to distract him from the questions and doubt raging in his mind, and three days before his cross-country trip, the world of Dynamic Reality is all Brandon has to retreat to; but when the AI characters act strangely and his war-game begins tearing itself apart, Brandon realizes he’s become trapped in an environment he can’t control; then, finding a way back to a real-world that isn’t so real, Brandon questions whether he ever made it back at all.