Runtime Zero, a new novel out in paperback and for Kindle, is the first in a neo-cyberpunk trilogy by Mick Brady, acclaimed by author Alan Kaufman as having "sandpaper prose to scrape the cheap paint off your mind,” which sounds like my kind of fun. Here's the pitch:
Runtime Zero, the opening salvo in Mick Brady's Dark Math series, traces the journey of a gifted young artist named Will Powers from his drug-fueled downfall in the streets of Manhattan to a future rebirth in a virtual paradise called SubVersa—a world where everything is possible and nothing is forbidden; where Chrome, his digital surrogate, finally lives out his maker's dream of becoming a master artist and in the process becomes a master programmer—a Code Warrior.
"Chrome", as it happens, is inspired by Chome Underwood, Mick's Second Life avatar, whose adventures in turn helped inspire the series. As he puts it to me:
"When I started writing my memoir about four years ago, I quickly realized that the narrative arc of the story (young artist goes down in flames in the Big City, reemerges years later in a virtual world to fulfill the dream) was a kind of traditional heroic journey for the digital age. The years I spent in SL interacting with some of the most free-thinking people on the planet cemented my notion of a creative paradise that had always remained just out of reach. Runtime Zero describes the inner evolution of an artist hell-bent on finding beauty and perfection, a search which eventually leads him to a virtual paradise, but not before he nearly loses his sanity, his life and his soul.
"The Dark Math trilogy is a rocket ride through the Psychedelic Sixties, a vision quest, a redemption tale, an artist's memoir, a psy-fi fantasy and a heroic journey for a digitized world. The story spans two centuries and three realities, links two parallel worlds and focuses on several distinct beings, all of whom happen to be the artist himself, ultimately destined to merge into a single, triune being. It's the story of a non-linear, many-centered, multi-sensory life, lived right out there on the fringes of human identity. Book two will go even darker, when his search leads Will into a deadly acid cult on the West Coast, a nightmare which only his digital guardian angels can save him from."