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November 17, 2018

Restricted Fantasies by Kevin Kneupper ~ a Review

by MK French

This collection of short stories explores the blurred lines between identity and reality when the virtual world is concerned. There is a futuristic child protective services worker having to dive into an unpleasant simulation where a man is raising his two children in a Neo-Nazi realm against custody agreements. Rumspringa is now in a virtual world for the Amish. The cheat code for the universe is used with disastrous consequences. There are those who are willing to push themselves with drugs in order to earn a few minutes of virtual gaming time. Communicating with alien cultures is an information diver's dream, but doesn't go according to plan. A virtual prison can't be escaped, especially if the warden is a computer program without humanity.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Restricted Fantasies
May 2018; 978-1718688551
audio, ebook, print (282 pages)
anthology, science fiction
It's always been a fascinating question to explore what makes us human and what makes up reality. There are a lot of concepts from "The Matrix" movies built into the background of these stories, such as being "plugged in" or needing a computer AI to run various instances of a simulation separately while people are in the virtual world. Other concepts might not be as familiar to some readers, like a universal basic income with jobs being extra on top of that, or that continual surveillance might be a reality. Those are in the background of these stories and not really discussed or developed at length. The focus is instead on human nature, or lack thereof, and how it intersects with technology. It might mean that corporations are in control of data streams and determine the culture of the people subscribing to that data stream. It might mean that there is no longer any physical contact with people and it's all virtual interaction with avatars. It might mean that families and relationships aren't as important as chasing the next high.

The stories here are great at envisioning their futures even with a low word count. They'll make you think about how connected or plugged in you are, and how much actual human contact you have. This is probably the point, and it would make for a great conversation piece or book club reading.

Buy Restricted Fantasies at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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