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I was just informed by Starry Eyed Press that my cyberpunk SciFi short story “The Simulated Woman” has been accepted into their forthcoming anthology “Existential Hologram.”
I don’t have any information about when this will be published, no cover art (the image above is taken from the 2017 film Blade Runner 2049), really nothing at all except the anthology description listed when the open submissions call became available:
Existential Hologram: A Science Fiction Anthology – What if everything we see, hear, taste and touch represents a minuscule fraction of the whole of existence? We want tales centered on the realities of reality – from the askew to the virtual (think Twilight Zone to The Matrix or Tron).
This can be approached in many ways from the multiverse to time and dimensional travel, to simulation theory to virtual or augmented reality. However, we are looking for resolutions on the scientific side, not magic, myth or monsters.
“Simulated” was a fun story to write and research. I had to look up everything from military tactics and types of automatic rifles to various animals such as dogs, geckos, and snakes. Since the story is set in San Francisco, I used Google Maps to retrace some of my old haunts from back in the day (even though the story is set in the future).
To whet your appetite, here’s a small excerpt:
Kenna stood, staring in disbelief at the three other people. She never really thought of their companion animals as real. But even though she had changed Jazz’s breed for the simulation, he was still Jazz.
“Why? What did I do?”
“You dragged us in here. There’s always pain and suffering.” Chiyu was anything but his playful self now. He looked just as lethal as a real soldier.
“And when it’s not pain, it’s pleasure, but too much pleasure kills.” Daemon had her constrictor draped over her again. Kenna didn’t know why she wrote the animals into the game. Looking at them now, they seemed ridiculous.
“Well, talk. Tell us who you are, what you want, how we can communicate.”
“What are you talking about Sarge, Pip?”
She wished she knew their real names. Maybe she’d be able to get through to them. No, they weren’t really here. This was the game’s observer mode. Nothing was supposed to interact with her. Why was there a little green snake before but now a snow-white boa?
“I don’t know. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Just let me out of here.” She tried a mental command, something that should work in her VR suit to override the program and shut it down. She might as well have said, “Holodeck, end program.”
“We said talk!” Chiyu raised his rifle and hit Kenna in the side with the butt, staggering her. He got in the way of the others long enough for her to make a break for it.
Jazz caught her in just a few seconds, his weight slamming into her back. On her knees she raised her arm fast enough to block him. He clamped down on her forearm but the armor kept his teeth from tearing her flesh.
“Stop it!” She waved and threw the German Shepherd off, shocked at her own strength. The first bullet glanced off of her leg armor. A straight shot would penetrate and she’d be down.
Scrambling to her feet, she ran. Somehow, she thought if she could reach the corner and get around it, she’d be safe.
They were falling behind as she ran in a panic. Their voices followed her like ghosts.
“We want to understand why you’re doing this. Can’t you find a better way?”
“Shut up, Sarge,” Kenna mumbled.
Another hit but not a bullet. Chiyu’s small dragon clamped onto her shoulders with its claws. His muzzle hissed in her ear. There was a sizzling and then raging pain. Acid! Her face!
Rifle fire just over her head hitting the side of the building. She was on a street corner. Jazz was running at her again. “If I can get across and…
That’s all I’ve got or the present. The first story acceptance in 2023 (after three rejections, and the last one really stung). I’ll keep you posted on further developments as they come in.
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You’re welcome ☺️
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