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Last edited by Ryan Grabow
June 12, 2017 | History

Caffeine 1 editions

Cover of: Caffeine | Ryan Grabow
About the Book

Brandon Dauphin feels like a dying ember. He’s jobless and feels worthless, and falling in love has only made his problem worse. In an authoritarian and overstimulated 22nd-century America, all he can do to relieve his pain is indulge in the computer-simulated fantasies of a network called Dynamic Reality, until a virus takes control of the simulation. Unable to return to the real world, Brandon finds that the virus shares his questions about existence, and that she will stop at nothing for her answers.


"If this server were to be disconnected for a small fraction of a single second, this place as it exists now would not survive. Four thousand eight hundred and eleven ascenders would be inconvenienced, abruptly returning to their ascension sites, or even waking up in their world, disoriented but alive. Nine hundred and five amai would lose their cache memory and event data, being recompiled as this construct restarts, losing their memories but essentially surviving. Three hundred and sixty thousand square meters of park would revert to its original programming, the blades of grass beneath my feet would not retain the footprints or ice cream drops from one malvirai."

I dared not speak the question on my mind, knowing what the answer would be.

"One malvirai," she continued, "would have approximately one hundred and ninety milliseconds of warning, but it would take almost twice as much time to react. Would anything restore me? Would anything remember me?"

"I'd remember you," I replied, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"My independence was an illusion, Brandon. Why should one want to destroy the things that sustain them?"

My gaze fell to the cone I was holding. Something in it reminded me of the beach. I felt self-conscious about every piece of garbage I'd left on the street and every ounce of energy I'd wasted over the years. I thought of all the stupid contributions I'd made to ruining an environment it seemed humans should be protecting.

So what if everyone does it? Why should I?

"Does... Does the idea of death scare you?" I asked.

Aether stared at the wet mint chocolate goop rubbing between her fingers, still showing no comprehension it was supposed to be annoying.

"The dead do not seek," she replied. "The truth is not there."
Page 176, added by Ryan Grabow. "Endorsed by author"
"If no person in the world were the type to kill another, what would be the point of making it illegal? If everyone in the world were the type to kill another, what would be the point of making it illegal? If it were legal, would it be moral? If it were legal but not moral, would you do it? What about the day when morals aren't convenient anymore? What about the exceptions those around you make but you don't? What about the day you realize the cost of your own actions, or the price of shutting people out for your vices?"
My vices? What is he talking about?
"Are you talking about my laws or societies' laws?"
"Is there really a difference?"
"Then the law is just there to punish everyone," I said, getting caught in the strange connection of ideas he'd led me into. "All parties lose in the end."
"Then the law is powerless to save."
"To save from what?"
"It repays an evil, which the individual considered good, with another evil, which the society considered good."
I tried to continue following him, my motivation shifting to curiosity, reaching the point of needing a solution; but at the point where good and evil threatened to untangle, where everything I knew of life became suspect, I found myself lost and frustrated.
"Where are you going with these questions?"
"What's the point of any question? What happens when people see that questions and answers aren't supposed to be simple automations? What do you think can happen to the limits of the human mind when questions aren't tied down by convention or even..."
He smiled somberly and swiped his foot over the pile of sand he'd made.
Page 26, added by Ryan Grabow. "Endorsed by author"

Links (outside Open Library)

1 edition First published in 2011

Edition Read Locate Buy
Cover of: Caffeine
November 15, 2011, Splashdown Books
Paperback in English


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June 12, 2017 Edited by Ryan Grabow Added new cover
June 12, 2017 Edited by Ryan Grabow Info and exerpts added by author
March 12, 2012 Edited by Dylan Cuffy + accessible tag
March 12, 2012 Edited by Dylan Cuffy Found on Wikipedia's list of Creative Commons-licensed projects
March 12, 2012 Created by Dylan Cuffy Added new book.