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Literature / Floating Point

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Okay, so it's not a Badass Longcoat, but it's close.

The digital universe of Netwerk. Thousands of servers, millions of living Programs (the evolutionary descendents of Apps) living in relative disharmony as one massive social network. It’s home to individuals seeking love, happiness, madness, trolling, order, stability, lawlessness, anonymity, individually, community, and everything in between. Binary people making binary decisions... but life is what happens between Zero and One. Life happens within the floating point decimals...

Floating Point is a Cyberpunk story, about artificially intelligent Programs living in an entirely digital world. The culture of this world is shaped vaguely like the Information Age, complete with all the good and the bad... social networks, toxic online games, hashtag mobs, and avatar-based discrimination.

The Un-Twist to all of this is that there's clearly a world beyond the computer-based reality of Netwerk... but while the reader is likely aware of this, the characters are not. The process of realization, along with all the implications of how and why their world is in this particular shape, drive the main narrative. Along with physics-simulated avatars kicking butt, sendups and subversions of Hollywood Hacking, and the occasional Love Triangle.

Floating Point is structured as a Web Serial Novel, written by Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne. It consists of a series of both free and for-pay stories, also available in published book form with various extras. It's currently a work in progress.

These stories contain examples of:

  • Action Girl: Spark in a nutshell, using mantis-style kung fu for avatar-to-avatar combat. The trick is that physical strikes are meaningless, but the attack malware in her fingernail polish is not. One good poke, and kaboom. Arguably Waif-Fu as well, although an avatar's physical size is meaningless and can actually be leveraged as an advantage.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Skin hues for Programs span the entire rainbow, without any real racism present. However, Tracer purposefully colors himself a neutral grey]] to avoid any preconceived notions in those he seeks to manipulate.
  • Antihero: Tracer in a nutshell, a Revenge driven vigilante and general Manipulative Bastard perpetually chasing his Arch-Enemy, the killer of his mentor. Uses non-lethal methods to take down any targets along the way between himself and the one he'll likely kill in the end. At least, as far as he knows he's never killed anyone, thanks to a Memory Gambit allowing him to erase his own memories.
  • Combat Stilettos: Heels and other otherwise-impractical gear have the same hitboxes as something well-suited for combat, so that there's no practical difference.
  • Everything Is Online: With great power comes great ability to exploit the personal information of others... and as everybody is software, attacking their data with corruptive malware and crashing them outright is a fine way to destroy them.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: Spark's sexual orientation is "yes," as she sees avatars largely as window dressing for whatever Program lurks behind them. Depicted as a Loveable Sex Maniac, generally sex-positive, but sometimes using casual relationships to avoid emotional entanglements.
  • False Flag Operation: An archbishop of the Church of One was unmasked as a notorious killer of his own believers, in an effort to frame evolutionary researchers as terrorists and rally his flock against them.
  • Fiery Redhead: Somewhat literal in Spark's case, as her preferred hairstyle is a short cropped red hairdo with actual flames licking at the edges. Particle effects don't actually burn you to a crisp, after all.
  • Flame War: Yelling at people over The Internet takes a turn for the worse when you LIVE in The Internet. A figurative flame war can turn into a literal one if someone goes nuts with malware in the shape of a flamethrower.
  • Frameup: The fate of Beta in her introductory chapter; an ex-boyfriend, not taking the breakup very well, frames her as a fraud and a cheat with a healthy dose of Slut-Shaming. The resulting hashtag mob that forms around the incident indulges in heavy Victim-Blaming.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Beta's Disability Superpower. Technically blind, but the glasses she wears are actually a remote vision App. Handy for work in the field; put them on someone else's nose and watch from across all of Netwerk.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Spark, being a diehard Action Fashionista, changes clothes frequently... but always wears a white leather jacket given to her by her mentor Verity. It's also an Expressive Shirt with her own icon on the back, which she can add visual effects to such as pulsing to the beat of music.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: One of the many real risks of Tracer's vendetta, as he skirts morality in an effort to clean up Netwerk's evils. At least, evils he sees fit to address.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Generally subverted, with extensive explanations for why two digital lifeforms need to stab each other with knives. (The knives are actually malware Apps which require a physics exploit to lock onto their targets and identify security weaknesses.)
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All chapter names are four characters long.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Spark's primary reason to avoid confirming or denying any of her emotional attachments.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Avatars in general can defy the laws of physics and good taste with their fashions. Complete avatar replacements for furries, robots, tentacle monsters, and superintelligent shades of the color blue exist.
  • Inside a Computer System: The basic gimmick of the entire series. There is no outside world that they're aware of; both creationists and evolutionary thinkers deny it exists.
  • Insufferable Genius: Tracer learned at an early age why Brainy Smurf always gets jettisoned from the village.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Many Programs, such as Tracer, have one avatar and stick with it. No need to wash clothing, so if you have a good look already, why blow money on more clothes?
  • Mark of the Beast: A mind-altering form of malware in the form of a tattoo shaped like a barbed-wire laced heart marks any who are affected by the Great Zero. It encourages extreme and erratic behavior.
  • MegaCorp: Quite a few of these, notably the Horizon corporate umbrella, home to many a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Generally all of Horizon has a Screw the Rules, I Have Money! attitude.
  • Multiplayer Online Battle Arena: Challenge of Champions, the preferred sport of Netwerk. Spark's a pro player, streaming her matches to an audience of thousands. Laced with toxic attitudes and sexism and worse, as competitive fevers run high.
  • Neuro-Vault: Tracer's Memory Palace software modification grants him a modular and easily searched personal memory system. One which he can edit at will, to forget certain events.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Beta immediately releases the boy that has been captured and enslaved by Corrupt Corporate Executive X Sept... unfortunately, the boy, Dex, is actually Zero, and she's released him.
  • Parental Substitute: Verity, the Cool Teacher and mentor who fills in for Spark and Tracer's mother. Their real mother is a diehard Church of One believer who tended to play Control Freak over their early years.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Tracer's general approach when dealing with Trolls and Griefers. He's well aware of the problem with fighting evil with evil, and considers himself to be a terrible person... but is still willing to do it.
  • Playful Hacker: Plenty of both to be found in Netwerk, from harmless pranksters to cyber terrorists. Dialogue has run very extreme across the world recently, ramped up by hashtag mobs and violent supporters of various causes.
  • Police Are Useless: Moderators, in this case, although Athena Online has a government-authorized police force of moderators. Mods are typically shown as lazy, corrupt, or both.
  • Powers as Programs: Programs can install Apps to gain new functionality, or install patches that modify the core of their software for even more powerful abilities.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Beta's former beau Cup 8, who saw himself as the world's greatest romantic despite being overbearingly intense... and more than a little playfully dismissive of his "darling" and her worries.
  • Religion Is Wrong: The idea of "The One," a great Program made entirely of ones with no zeroes, which created the world is a bit laughable. Unless, of course, Religion Is Right.
  • Residual Self-Image: Programs have a "Default" avatar, the one they were born with, which ages naturally and reshapes itself accordingly. Few bother sticking with their Default, preferring to go wild with body reshapers and new hair colors and more... unless they're Church of One, which believes Defaults are sacrosanct.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Wobbles around quite a bit here, as unfortunate reality gets in the way of optimism for the future.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Beta. See the goggles entry above; she's Blind Without 'Em. Techncially she's blind with 'em, but.
  • The Social Expert: Tracer, the Manipulative Bastard. He learned long ago how to read people and social situations, so he can better lie right to their face to get what he wants.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: The Great Zero malware twists and distorts the thinking of its host, encouraging them to go further and further into their darkest wishes. Someone who would be content to join a Flame War just to yell might show up with a knife and intention to do harm.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Tracer, Spark, and Beta. Two foils plus balance. See also Freudian Trio. Oh, and Love Triangle, but not the squicky incest kind.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Plenty of examples... left and right, pro and anti, for and against, red and blue, us and them. Each feel they're the heroes of their own narratives, when in reality life is seldom one and zero. It's the floating point decimals in between...