The Uploaded: My New Novel About The Dark Side Of Digital Immortality. (Coming In September.)
The good news is that we figured out how to build Heaven.
The bad news is that we forgot to afterlife-proof our politics.
So in my new novel The Uploaded, humanity’s figured out how to upload our brains into servers at the moment of death—which sounded really good when it started. I mean, who wants to die?
But a couple of hundred years later, and the question’s become, “Who wants to live?” Digital bodies get to go on awesome adventures, 24/7, in the most entertaining massively multiplayer online game ever created. Digital bodies never experience unwanted pain. Digital bodies can have the wildest pleasures, living in sprawling virtual mansions eating virtual ice-cream sundaes the size of mountains, and to them it’s just as real as anything you could have gotten in that sad little meat-life. Digital bodies can own property, keep their jobs if they’re interesting enough, and they’ll never reach retirement age.
Oh. And digital citizens also get to vote. Which is a little awkward when there’s fourteen generations of dead people at the ballot box and one generation of you.
The living are outvoted, underfunded, and thoroughly out of fashion. Everybody’d have slit their own throats by now if the brain-scans couldn’t tell whether you committed suicide to get in. And the jobs the living get have one of two purposes: build more of those city-sized servers to hold the ever-swelling number of dead, or defend those servers against the dwindling numbers of NeoChristian terrorists. And life sucks, sure, but that’s the point, isn’t it? We’ve got better options now. So what if you break your back digging ditches to put another Upterlife server in? Life can suck for seventy years when you have eternity.
If you’re lucky, you catch one of the plagues that have evolved past our antibiotics—not that anyone cares about antibiotics now. The plague is like a damn lottery. Your friends send you “Don’t Get Well” cards.
In the middle of all this is one kid. His name’s Amichai. And he’s got this crazy idea that maybe life should be more than a slog to paradise. He’s worried that the dead aren’t smarter, they’re just more stubborn. He’s worried that the dead are making this world purposely crappy to keep the living in line.
And he’s worried about his sister, who’s going to spend the next sixty years slaving in a hellish computer chip-reclamation factory—she says she doesn’t mind, keeping the servers going is in everyone’s best interests, but Amichai knows that bodies shape minds. How can you truly enjoy nirvana when your life’s been one long series of being whipped into submission?
Amichai’s going to stumble upon a secret plan that proves the dead are working on ways to brainwash the living. The only way you’ll get to the Upterlife from now on will be with a nicely-complaint, artificially obedient mind.
And when that happens, Amichai’s best chance to free his family will involve starting a civil war between a digital heaven and a very real Earth. Unless the dead change their minds.
But seriously. How often have young people gotten old people to change their minds?