It’s October. And that can only mean one thing: November, the National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), is just around the corner.
As is my habit, I collect and discard a number of potential metaverse plots in the run-up to this magical month, when novelists the world over shut themselves off from their loved ones to bang out a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. Here are a few of them for you to play with if you like. You’re welcome.
Technology entrepreneur Along Dusk surprises the world when his Mars colonisation programme launches not on time but three years early. Hundreds of thousands gather to watch the lift-off of the BFP (Big Friendly Phallus) and millions tune in daily to get the latest updates from the space capsule as it hurtles across the void carrying the hopes of humankind in the form of twenty top astronauts (selected through a four month reality TV extravaganza, in which contenders were voted through each week according to the their portfolio of scientific skills, their emotional resilience and the poetic quality of haiku they have written in honour of Dusk’s electric vehicle, the Kilogram per Coulomb Second). Suspicions are aroused when the craft arrives in Mars orbit a full week ahead of schedule, a feat considered mathematically impossible by NASA scientists and which Dusk denies has anything to do with avoiding a clash with the release of the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. The astronauts themselves are surprised to learn that their Mars suits include an ‘eye shield unit’ that looks oddly similar to an Oculus Rift headset. Undeterred, they step out onto the Martian surface, only to discover they are unable to change the speed at which they walk and cannot sit down on anything. Smelling a rat, mission captain Francesca Boring tears off her helmet and discovers that the whole team are actually in a warehouse in Alabama (which has a rat problem): the launch was an unmanned rocket, the trip through space was done in the back of a truck traversing the German Autobahn (seriously – it goes on forever) and the Martian surface was in fact a Sansar Experience. A warrant is issued for Dusk’s arrest and the US President goes on live TV to blame anti-American news outlets for covering this “really, really bad fake – totally fake and terrible – news” whilst he does that thing with his fingers.
How do you solve a problem like Korea?
When intelligence reaches the US that the West Korean leader, Jim Kong-nu, is secretly logging in to Second Life every evening and suffers from a serious gacha habit, a plan is hatched to deploy a secret agent avatar to The Arcade. Tasked to gain Kong-nu’s confidence and talk him out of his nuclear weapons programme, top SL fashion designer and blonde bombshell Memorise Staple befriends the young dictator whilst they buy up multiple copies of garden gnomes, rakes, flower pots, watering cans and weeding forks in an attempt to obtain the rare greenhouse with authentic ‘growing’ tomato plants. In an unexpectedly frank IM with Staple, Kong-nu laments the fact that he’s unable to sell his duplicates on the marketplace due to UN sanctions. Sensing an opportunity, Staple offers to sell them for him, a proposal he readily agrees to, telling her “you’d be doing my uranium enrichment programme a big favour.” Romance blossoms. Kong-nu invites Staple to be his guest at his next hydrogen bomb test, advising her to bring sunglasses (a designer label, if possible). She expresses reservations at first, but her CIA handlers urge her to accept. Assuming that they are well aware she is in real life a fifty year old man called Burt, Staple agrees. It turns out, however, that the CIA had thought her to be Burt’s twenty-one-year-old daughter. Kong-nu is furious, but he seizes the opportunity to ridicule the CIA, parading Burt on state TV wearing a stars-and-stripes bikini atop the latest model of ICBM. The US President goes on live TV to blame anti-American news outlets for covering this “really, really bad fake – totally fake and terrible – news” whilst he does that thing with his fingers.
The Remoaners of the day
Anti-Brexit campaigner Franklin D. Jonathan has been thinking. The essence of the Leave campaigners’ gripe, he reasons, is that things these days are not the same as they were in what they perceive to have been the ‘Good Old Days’ of their childhood – a fact which they ascribe to Britain’s membership of the European Union, but which he reckons might have a good deal more to do with supermarkets, marketing, online shopping, corporate culture, capitalism, social media, spin and Thatcher’s prioritisation of the individual over community – not to mention that you don’t have responsibilities when you’re a child so of course that time’s remembered as more cheerful. Or something along those lines. What if, he ponders, the world that they long for was recreated in VR? Would that make them happier people? And so it is that Camchester is born. But what starts of as a small English village rapidly becomes a town and then a small city and then a sprawling urban slum as new and increasingly complex tastes for nostalgia are added in to the simulation. Once everyone’s done cricket on the village green a few times, you see, its warm, fuzzy appeal starts to wane. The first post-war street party is great fun for all and the second is a good laugh as well; after that, however, the numbers quickly start to drop. Every month, a new nostalgia fashion emerges, trends and then fades. Every month, enjoyment turns quickly into endurance and ultimately ennui. Nevertheless, Camchester is a roaring financial success, especially in America where an unexpected market is found for nostalgia for the Obama presidency. As one news channel puts it, “Rather than finding its core market in older people wanting to re-experience specific memories of the past, Camchester’s key user-base is a growing number of Americans who just want to escape from today.” The US President goes on live TV to blame anti-American news outlets for covering this “really, really bad fake – totally fake and terrible – news” whilst he does that thing with his fingers.
Pokeprim, Civil War and Mr Copybot: Some novel ideas 2016
Bright Canapé, Sansarially Yours and Game of Prims: Some novel ideas 2015
Yet more novel ideas (2014)
Some more novel ideas (2013)
Some novel ideas (2012)