I’ve edited (minimally) the text of the 47,300 word short novel, and updated the eBook cover; here’s a brief look at some changes (and a new synopsis).
Malleable is a novella/short novel featuring gaming, data, love, life, aliens… and world domination. It questions our comfort levels (indifference?) with our online selves.
16-year-old Nick Seche is a gamer, a nerd. It’s 2024 and Seche wins a beta trial of a new tech, sensory-immersive gaming unit and program from innovative gaming guru, Daichi Arata, head of Phantom Gaming. Though apparently locked in the mundanity of small-town USA , Arata’s game promises so much more. Nick is plunged beyond the virtual into a ‘game’ scarily not at all mundane: via the game’s immersive sensors and lightspeed technology Seche lives and breathes his character, Norman Mene. Seche’s world (Sydney, Australia) begins to resonate with the world of Burris (the mid-west U.S. town where the game is set). Norman is Seche’s avatar.
The game spirals out of control: Pleasantville meets Gremlins: hackers made substantial, gamers intruding on game space and politics out of control in downtown Main Street. Meantime, back in Sydney, Seche is contacted via a strange entity he dubs the voice. The voice convinces him that the game is a simulation environment allowing sinister background entities to data mine players. It may be gaming but the stakes are real world—Nick Seche is a guinea pig.
Malleable is an older YA crossover adult novel; it belongs in part to that generic group of dystopian books such as Daz 4 Zoe by Robert Swindells, Feed by M.T. Anderson and also some of Scott Westerfeld’s earlier work. There may also be some resonances with Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy.
Donald J Trump wouldn’t like this book.
And here is an extract:
On the night Myron brakes into Lucius’s place, it’s dark. No moon at all and storm clouds darking everything. Myron tiptoes past a snoring Lucius Finnke, wondering, as he does so, why the old fat Jew has a photo of a cat, for God’s sake, on his side table.
Myron slips into one of three marble bathrooms, garish in now pallid moon with gold and even precious stones, and writes with a blood-red sharpie on Lucius’s mirror:
* * *
I know about Mauritius and the Caymans Fund. I know stuff INTERNAL REVENUE would love to know but I’m not greedy (unlike you). A grand a month is all it will cost you and it will just be our little secret. I’ll be back to let you know how to pay… don’t bother changing your security either; I’ll get past it anyway and the price will go up.
On his way out, Myron takes the photo of the cat.
* * *
Lucius Finnke wants a quiet remainder of life where he can enjoy the fruits of his years of labour (he’s known lots of wealthy people and comes from good stock himself and he’s done quite well on the market, thank you very much) as a director of Broadway shows and TV and even two films for an Indian producer. He doesn’t think the stock market stuff and the insider trading and the news leaked to him a few hours before a press release or any of the other ways in which he’s earned most of his money is wrong but he keeps it quiet except for those who’d know anyway. Lucius belongs to a special club.
So why does he feel like God is picking on him since he’d moved to Burris?
Myron brakes into Lucius’s place again two nights after his first visit; time for some fun. He employs the red sharpie again.
Guess you want your pussy photo back. This is what I want you to do with the first grand you’re gonna pay me; then you’ll get kitty back and I’ll stay quiet about all those offshore accounts you got.
Put the money in an envelope and drop it in the bin by the statue of Washington in Lincoln Park after 9 p.m. tomorrow. How easy is that… I’ll be watching.
On his way out, Myron puts a photo of a crazy looking Mexican hairless dog he’s cut out of a magazine and put in a cheap Walmart frame by Lucius’s bed. He figures Lucius isn’t a dog fancier…