I love Mad Max and other post-apocalypse style books. In a way, they often feel to me like the next evolution of cyberpunk genre stories. Late stage capitalism fails, society collapses, and a few stragglers hang on by their fingernails in a world with few resources. What’s not to love? The setting of Desert Runner, by Dawn Chapman, is Puatera Online. In this virtual reality MMORPG, the technology level is mostly archaic, with a few exceptions. One of these exceptions belongs to one of the NPCs of the game, Maddie. Maddie owns a high powered automobile with which she completes jobs, otherwise known as quests, with or without the help of the “Visitors” as she and her fellow NPCs call them. What makes this story less common than most is that many of the NPCs of the Puatera Online gameworld are not only sentient, but they know that they’re programs. Those that have become self aware in this fashion often work to resist their programming and deny their “destiny.” Maddie’s destiny, for example, was to fall in love with every male Visitor who showed interest in her. After the first Visitor that she fell in love with broke her heart,… Read full this story
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