It seems the more I read, the harder it gets to find unique, so I feel really lucky that I’ve discovered more than a few books lately that have set themselves just that little bit apart from the standard in their originality; Circuit Theory is definitely one of those books.
Roleplaying games aren’t a new concept, but the internet has elevated roleplaying to a virtually realistic medium that has pulled gamers away from game boards and placed them in a room in front of a computer, where they are alone together with millions of other people on the World Wide Web.
The internet has been vilified as a killer of interpersonal relationships and communication skills; it has been heralded as a medium that has shrunk the world and drawn people of all walks of life together. It is a global village where a person can be as anonymous or as conspicuous as he wishes to be. It’s a cyber world where a person can portray himself the way he wishes he truly were; he can be an entirely different persona from the one he sees when he looks in the mirror and from the one who points and clicks his way through the affectation, no one the wiser.
For Dante Hera and Byron Koro, the realm of codes and bytes and bandwidth has taken the concept of partnership and drawn it into the construct of a virtual world where they can be lovers and form an emotional and physical connection in a way they could never do in the lives they live outside of Synth. Outside the world of Synth, they are separated by thousands of miles of land and ocean, so they work to form a bond of hearts and minds as their avatars compose and orchestrate a relationship inside a realm where physical contact isn’t of the flesh but of the fantasy.
Inside Synth, virtual people succumb to all the insecurities of fitting in and trusting and building relationships among fellow gamers playing sometimes exaggerated digital versions of their ideal selves in a pseudo-society that, to them, is very real. It’s a world that’s as unreal as it is meaningful to the people who choose to inhabit it, and is the only place in their world that exists where Dante and Byron can love and touch and have an intimate relationship with each other.
Don’t expect to get to know much about “the real” Dante and Byron. In fact, don’t expect to get to know too much about the virtual Dante and Byron either. But I think that’s the point of this story—that sense of disconnect in a life connected by cables, modems, and typos. How much do you really know about the person to whom you’re tied when that tie is ephemeral and can be cut by nothing more than a glitch or click of the mouse button?
Circuit Theory is a short story that really made me think about how the internet has become such an integral part of social relationships. It’s interesting and intelligent science fiction that truthfully isn’t so far from reality. I liked and disliked it at the same time for making me realize that staying connected and being part of a collective can still be a lonely and temporary business.
Circuit Theory is available for Pre-Order HERE and will be available for purchase July 30, 2012.