In DreamNet, the future is a thing of enigmatic mystery for some, hope for others, and dread for perhaps only a few. As the light of a new century beckons and begins to crest over the horizon, people wonder what could possibly be next for a world in which colonists inhabit Mars, dreams are shared as people sleep in auto-driving cars, and entire businesses exist only in a virtual universe.
Those born in the last years of the 20th century in particular have seen an incredible momentum in the advancement of technology, from cell phones and the rise of the internet to automation and separate, digital realities. As those who were raised in the 1990′s become centenarians and become fewer in number every passing day, people that remember a time when code wasn’t fully integrated with everyday life grow ever closer to disappearing.
Charles Lenderson often describes the past as a vast, dark, cold ocean, filled in spots with bubbles of light and warmth—happy memories. The future is its surface, a place of waves pushed by a cool breeze. He lived his life somewhere in between, clinging onto history as much as possible while also doing his part to guide that breeze, shaping what’s to come. But while the past can provide vital lessons, how much should tomorrow be built from it?
His family and childhood home are both long gone, lost to time and the rising sea. He spends almost all day in a sleeping machine, which lets him inhabit his personal dream world of memories. And yet, while he’s awake, he works on finishing his DreamNet software, which is purely for the next generation (and not even remotely improved by the company he left behind twenty years prior).
But one last upgrade isn’t the only thing he’s working on…
The future is unknown, chaotic, unpredictable. It isn’t until it’s behind us can we say something like, “yes, of course that’s how things would have played out.” And even that’s still a lie. We only get one chance to shape things as they come. We don’t have access to alternative realities. We can’t go back in time. And if we had a way to see the future before it arrived, it would instantly change.
But if there was one person that, just maybe, could touch upon that true final frontier—time itself—Charles might be that man. But with all of his friends gone, he needs to find someone he can trust to help enact his last set of plans.
Song, the daughter of his former chief of security, sounds like a possible candidate. One dark, stormy night in his locked-down penthouse that watches over an empty New York City, he begins to write an email to her, and sets into motion the chain of events in the story…