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The Great Solar System War

Just as there’s a “circle of life,” there’s a circle of war. And we’re gonna get circled if we let current events barrel along as they are — I do see people conscious of how interesting the times have become, and speaking out about the dangers (shout out to global climate change, which is co-morbid with what I’m going to say here), and that’s good. Hopeful. But.

75ish years after World War II, the circle seems to be coming around again. Pseudo-Nazis and actual Nazis and assorted bigoted pro-genocide and pro-authoritarian types who might technically not be Nazis or pseudo-Nazis but are so close that WTF is the difference are upset there’s not enough evil and hate and murder in the world and are standing up in droves to demand more evil and hate and murder.

And millions of dipshits, the Dipshit-in-Chief at their head, shrug and say “well, all they’ve done is say they want to destroy our civilization and murder millions of people we can’t object… in fact, I’m kind of cool with it because I dislike some of the people they want to mass-murder… and I’m sure some of them are “very fine people.”

The wheel turns, and it is fashionable to think that nuclear weapons aren’t a big deal and NOBODY is talking about biological weapons anymore because that’s so 1990s who would even do that old-fashioned stuff. Except I’ve got a funny feeling there’s some Captain Trips in test tubes here and there because who throws out a perfectly good weapon after paying all that money to develop it?

Sigh.

I just KNOW World War III is going to break out the same day I sell enough writing to live on for the first time.

That’d be just my luck, you dirty old world.

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VR: A Little Flash About Trolls And The Nature Of Virtual Reality

TrollsDoNotFeedMemecenter

VR

S.A. Barton

Jillian Gomez-Chen clicked her goggles tight. The earpieces made the smothered crackle of compressing acoustic foam in her ears and the buzz of the riding mower in the back yard beyond her bedroom window faded, faded, disappeared.

Gameworld flicked to life in her eyes and ears. Lovely sensories, brighter and livelier than life; no mowers, no fading fall leaves or scuffed wooden floors. Supergreen grass, deep sun you could gaze into painlessly; the river she materialized beside tinkling on the edge of music. All beautiful, but for one multiplicitous thing.

She brought up SETTINGS, clicked DIALOGUE and moved the slider to PG – CENSORED.

Jillian hated to censor anything, but…

“You look like a stupid n_____ b____ in that avatar,” another player shouted from a hilltop on the other side of the river. The PG filter did its job; Jillian sighed. Of course, she understood what went in the audio blanks.

Jillian’s avatar was tall as she was not, a Night Elf, indigo like a moonless night sky. She brushed a hand through her white virtual hair, raking back the tapering tips of her elf-ears the way she liked, fierce.

Bringing her hand throwing forward, she turned to face the faraway player troll. Blinked MENU to MAGIC and ARMOR EATING LAVA BURST.

“Shut up, noob,” she muttered, and incinerated him.

Too many people brought their own archaic, human virtual reality along, their bigot eyes older than computers or even electricity, filtering their reality into dark and angry and hateful visions, along into Gameworld with them.

She took flight, cloak streaming behind her, a comet tail of deep and simmering reds. Beyond rivers and woods and foothills she found familiar mountains, the dungeon crawl she’d had her eye on all week.

On the way she passed over a party trekking on foot. She landed at the dungeon entrance ahead of them.

“You can’t do that one alone, dumb c___,” one of them called from the valley below.

“You that hot in real life?” Another shouted. “Send me a nude. You can suck my d___, baby.”

Jillian sighed again and entered the dungeon. The great iron door slammed shut, cutting off the party of trolls. The monsters inside would try to kill her, of course, but virtual monsters were monsters and that’s what they were supposed to do. They wouldn’t call out obscenities for the censor to block. They were all game, no hate. Not like the real monsters.

Jillian smiled, shut in alone with the virtual, reality locked out behind her.

END