Carson here to welcome our first Riptide Publishing Blog Tour! We hope the tour is successful and that many more will stop by Guys Like Romance, Too! So without further delay I give you Kirby Crow and Reya Starck with their longer awaited book Circuit Theory.
Welcome to the Circuit Theory virtual book tour! As a thank you for helping us celebrate the release of Circuit Theory, we’ll be giving one lucky reader a $10 gift credit to Riptide Publishing! To enter, just leave a comment with your email address included below. Earn additional entries by commenting along each stop of the tour.
Thank you Guys Like Romance, Too! for hosting us and helping celebrate this exciting release from Riptide Publishing!
Lover in a Box: Avatar Romance in Virtual Reality
Reya Starck & Kirby Crow
Enter any virtual world, whether by accident or design and you’ll eventually stumble across –and possibly even become-- one of two player types: the augmentalist and the immersionist. More frequently you’ll encounter players who are a mix of the two, but they will almost always lean to one side or the other, however vaguely.
All of the tools are there to convince you of whatever truth you'd like to believe. Virtual reality avatars can be purchased or created with a single click. They can be modified. They can be endlessly customizable, or they can be ready to go right out of the box. All that's left for the player to decide is how to invest in the game.
In some cases, the player has to decide if they're going to invest emotion into the avatar, into the avatar's artificial life and virtual relationships, and sometimes even into the avatar's love life. It happens every single day, thousands of times a day, in every corner of cyberspace.
For the augmentalist the virtual world is an addition to their real life existence. They are the ones most likely to see it as a game, to regard their avatar as a dress-up doll, and to forget about it soon after they’ve logged out. To them the virtual world is a place to meet people and do stuff, but –pretty graphics aside—it’s no different than a chat room or other online hub. Their profile picture is as likely to be one of their real life self as it is of their avatar, and they’re usually quite happy to mix flesh and pixels.
To the immersionist separation of worlds is everything. Their avatar is their real self in that world, in many cases more real than the real self. When gender, weight, height, facial features, and the myriad other things around which our real world identities revolve can be changed with the click of a mouse, which is more genuine: the person sitting behind the keyboard, or the polygons moving on the screen?
Whereas the augmentalist may create an avatar that resembles their real life, physical self, the immersionist is likely to create an avatar that reflects their true self: the person they are inside, the person they wish they could be.
For some immersionists, it’s real life that’s the addition to their virtual existence. They feel as at-home in their pixel houses as they do in their brick and mortar ones, and their online relationships are no less real than their corporeal ones, despite suggestions to the contrary by well-meaning family and friends.
While writing “Circuit Theory”, we deliberately included as little information as possible about the real world people behind Dante and Byron, who are gay lovers residing in a virtual world called Synth. In Synth, Dante and Byron are comfortable in their well-ordered lives, until mistrust and old wounds intrude and remind them that their love is predicated on a world that can be erased with a mouse click.
In virtual worlds there’s a delicate dance that takes place over time as a relationship builds between two people. Information is released piecemeal as trust grows and conversations get longer. Of course, photos may be exchanged and real world physical details divulged, especially if the relationship moves to an intimate level, but whereas this is apt to be important for the augmentalist it’s of far less significance to the immersionist.
Dante and Byron –the avatars, the true expressions of their players—are in love. They know the Important Stuff about each other in the real world, but that doesn’t matter to them. Their inner selves are in love and are loved for who they truly are, and when it comes down to it… isn’t that what we all hope for?
Kirby Crow worked as an entertainment editor and ghostwriter for several years before happily giving it up to bake more brownies, read more yaoi, play more video games, and write her own novels.
Kirby is a 2010 winner of the Epic Award and a two-time winner of the Rainbow Award for her published works in fiction.
Her published novels are:
Prisoner of the Raven (historical romance, Torquere Press, 2005)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Pedlar and the Bandit King (fantasy romance, Torquere Press, 2006)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: Mariner's Luck (fantasy romance, Torquere Press, 2007)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Land of Night (fantasy romance, Torquere Press, 2007)
Angels of the Deep (paranormal/horror, MLR Press, 2009)
Circuit Theory (scifi, Riptide, 2012)
Reya Starck lives in England, never gets quite enough sleep, and is a professional procrastinator and consumer of chocolate. By day she is an intrepid bacteriologist, eradicating microbes for a better world order. By night she writes wonderfully queer stories featuring an array of lovely men.
Attraction is Binary.
Dante and Byron are avatars. Driven by human beings, yet still only digital representations of their ideal selves. In reality, they live far apart, but share most of their waking and working hours together in a virtual world called Synth.
In Synth, like in most code, the laws are infinitely more simple and infinitely more complex. Navigating the system rules of virtual lovers is like steering through a minefield of deceit, suspicion, heartbreak, and half-truths.
Under pressure, Dante makes a friendship that trips Byron’s warning bells, disrupting their carefully-ordered lives and calling into question the wisdom of trusting your heart to a man you can never touch in the flesh.