A few years back, I joined Second Life™ (known to residents as SL), to do some research on a short story I was writing. It’s a fascinating, addictive place and I made friends there whom I’d never have met under normal circumstances. It’s a place where you can indulge all sorts of fantasies and, indeed, there are stories of people who have more or less opted out of their Real Life, which is the term used there, and prefer to live, interact, and even worship in the virtual world. In times of austerity, the ability to build yourself a vast home in a fantastical location of your choosing, fly through the air and be perpetually young and attractive (or be a dragon, unicorn or mouse if you prefer) has obvious appeal. It’s very liberating but the loosening of inhibitions can also be dangerous.
In the end, I left because it was taking up too much of my time. But while I was there, I was involved in various writing groups which were very stimulating and which caused me to write some stories which would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t experienced that mingling of the real and the virtual. A few months ago, I put some of them together and it was clear that the real/virtual theme was strong in nearly all of them. There was also the fact that the coexistence of 2 ‘realities’ is the perfect situation for humour, since laughter depends a lot on the unexpected.
Well, it didn’t take much to write a narrative strand that let me put them into a sequence which offered a sort of development to a conclusion. I’m not claiming great things of it – some of the stories are sad, some funny, some satirical, some absurd, some just rude – but the one thread running through them all is that strange virtual/real dynamic. And they make up a novella. I wouldn’t want to risk offending the people at Second Life ™, whose creation really is remarkable, so the stories take place in a game called Alternative Dimension – a game which does the same sort of things but is by no means a replica of SL.
And the reason I’m telling you this is because, for this weekend only on Amazon, it’s free. Naturally enough, the title is Alternative Dimension and it’s written by my avatar, Jack Lefebre. (Actually my avatar had a ‘v’ in his name, too, but there are already writers called Jack Lefebvre and I didn’t want to offend them.)
It won’t take a minute to log on, ‘buy’ it and, if you’re like me, store it with all the other freebies you’ve downloaded and forgotten about. It’s at http://amzn.to/zvutuc for the
USA and http://amzn.to/yt6Mno for