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Enjoy a peek at my second cyberpunk novel about teens saving the future with NFTs

A real Cyber Monday treat for you!

When I gave you a sneak peek at 1/1, my cyberpunk novel about teens saving the future with NFTs, I could not possibly have predicted that Elon Musk would become a controversial figure. No one could. But the infobahn baron played a role in my tale's thrilling conclusion, and so my publishers are unthrilled by recent developments. They're holding the novel's launch back so I can address 'the Musk issue' with a sequel released simultaneously. So as a Cyber Monday treat, allow me to top up your thrill levels with excerpts from book two: Original Content, a Non-Fungible Future drop.

When we left NFTteen rebel 5arah.eth, she had struck a strong blow against the megacorps who tried to lock down NFTs and control the blockchain. With a little help from a certain Mr Musk, she and her friends had cracked their stranglehold on metaverses and sown the seeds of rebellion that would surely grow strong and burst the concrete choking the digital domain. Well, as they say in 2069: don't count your apes before the exchange completes.

We rejoin 5arah.eth at the start of book two, Original Content, after everything went wrong. (You might need to refer to the first book for a refresher on the cool cyberslang I've coined.)

The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel. Thick clouds of blue smoke poured from the burning copper-arsenic battery of the custom Tesla Model Z previously owned by Elon Musk as it slid into the salt mud which stank with choked fish and the even deader dreams of a generation.

"Let that sink in," spat 5arah.eth, the car's current owner. With Elon's support, she and her friends had faced down the megacorps and their hollow metaverses. Turned out, he was just another hedgie.

Elon had bought up one of the metaverses she helped undermine—cheap as last year's computer chips, thanks to her cybersabotage. With Elon now running that metaverse as his own personal fanclub, 5arah's fellow NFTeens rejected her as a shill. She thought she was riding a rocket to Mars but she landed deep in the $HIB, pumped and dumped like just another shitcoin. And as if all that didn't ratio 5arah hard enough, the apeless motherfunger didn't even use a nifty avatar in his new fiefdomain. It was all for nothing. She spat again and watched it sizzle on the car's bubbling marijuana-green paintjob.

5arah flipped open her cryptowallet and moved to transfer ownership of the digital car keys to a nearby smartbin. Fitting. She confirmed the command with her biometric authentication gesture: pointing a fingergun upwards under her chin as if to splatter her engrams across the infobahn, and pulling the trigger. She was done.

Done with this movement. Done with venerating people who did something mint a decade ago and funge-all since then. Done with fawning adoration of the tired and hollow things these old people loved. It was time for something fresh. Sarah knew where the future lay. She knew who the future was for. She knew what she had to create. It was time for original content.

No more heroes any more.

This is where 5arah's new revolution begins. She still believes in changing the world with NFTs but knows she must reframe her entire ideology. The modern world of 2069 has little to offer hope. The Man runs culture threadbare with endless remakes, remasters, and retreads of tired ideas. She needs something new, something real. And as luck would have it, she will find inspiration in all the timeless movies, music, books, and video games that I myself like. Real things, you know. From when I was young. Things which hit you in the heart with memories of my youth. Good things. So kudos if you recognised that the excerpt closed with a little reference to a Stranglers song. You'll find many more opportunities to earn such kudos!

The words ORIGINAL CONTENT in giant yellow letters over a colour-shifted photo of a woman wearing mirrorshades and a baseball cap, like a book cover.
Fans will have noticed that I am paying homage to the first book's cover with a fresh take on a classic image

To create good and truly original content, 5arah will delve into the best of the past. She still holds some sway on the infobahn after her fall—or, at least, her fall was so precipitous that many digi-rubberneckers will follow her next moves with curiosity. She's banking on that curiosity. 5arah will create a series of mysterious messages which call readers to action using mighty strange language. As NFTeens investigate these curious phrasings, some will come to realise: they're all references to classic culture.

As NFTeens dig into the sources of this original content, they'll play the video games I played, read the books I read, listen to the music I listened to, and watch the movies I watched. They'll come to not only appreciate that culture but learn the same beliefs I learned. A memetic weapon creating cybersoldiers eager to fight for a future they now believe in. And here's the kicker: as they decipher messages, they will unlock cryptowallets containing some real un-funging-believably powerful NFTs. Some of the world's mintest apes will escape. The infobahn might never be the same again. Good.

Alright, that's enough explanation! Our second excerpt is one of those very messages, a rich and dense text built (almost) entirely from the lyrics of songs I like.

1/1/2069 tonight the stars are shining bright. I don't know what to do, I'm always in the dark. I was one among many, or at least I seemed to be. Everything everywhere is a-vanishing. Tell me now, how should I feel. I know I'm artificial, but don't put the blame on me. Well, I'm just a hard-working corporate slave. When routine bites and ambitions are low, I spend my cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention. A cracked smile and a silent shout. So much for the golden future, I can't even start.

I'm trying to tell you now, it's sabotage. Thieves! Liars! The grabbing hands grab all they can: all for themselves, after all. Thieves! Liars! They just use your mind and they never give you credit. Thieves! Liars! You just can't give them no more. When they kick at your front door, how you gonna come? The bomb keeps on ticking, and we're all going straight to Hell.

Your city lies in dust, my friend. There's no kind of mystery, there's no new thought. Your inspiration is a memory that you know you never had. Now we grieve 'cause now is gone. This world is only gonna break your heart, and it hurts with every heartbeat. What are we gonna do when everything all falls through? Ain't no god, no ghost gonna save you now.

All I want is something new, something I can hold on to. We don't need this fascist groove thang. You could be anything, you could be free. I've gotta dream I'm gonna make it, if there's a chance I'm gonna take it. Double up or quit, double stake or split. I gotcha back, but you best to watch your front. Keep your eyes open, soft spoken changes nothing. If you're here 'cause you want to be entertained, go away, please go away. And if you complain once more, you'll meet an army of me.

If I only could, I'd make a deal with god. But we should know that discipline maketh the geez. We are strong; no one can tell us we're wrong. We will rise up from the dead. I like to fight, I kill global oppression. Look out, honey, 'cause I'm using technology. This world is gonna burn, burn burn burn. Bang bang bang on the door, baby. Twist away the gates of steel. If you want it, let's do it. Just you and I.

Tonight I'ma fight till we see the sunlight. And all that I want from you is a promise you will be there. You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the things I like are the best things, and I hope (if I may dare!) that my tutelage will forever change not only the lives of the NFTeens, but of my actual teenage readers too. Maybe even my readers in their thirties (don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you!).

My agent is being evasive about when exactly these first two books will be published but I'm hopeful they'll be printed and shipped in time to stuff Christmas stockings. Keep watching your favourite legacy media vendors, NFTeens and mint dudes! The future is coming, and it's looking original.

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.