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[P]
A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace

By localroger in Fiction
Mon May 19, 2003 at 09:31:12 AM EST
Tags: You Know... (all tags)
You Know...

A short story drawing on some of my own experiences, but set in the universe of Prime Intellect.


I had my first wet dream when I was fourteen, and two days later I was approached by the Avatar. Some parents try to interfere but mine had learned the first time, with my brother, who is nearly a century older than me. I knew they had noticed the stained bedclothes because they suddenly became a bit distant and started leaving me alone a lot. I thought they were trying to figure out how to have That Talk with me. Like most adolescents I knew something about sex years before my body was ready.

And like most adolescents I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I did. They were actually leaving the coast clear so Prime Intellect could do its explaining.

So like everybody of a certain age I found out that I could go anywhere, do anything, even go places I'd never imagined and do things that were utterly unbelievable. I could become a totally different person if I wanted to, taller or stronger or I could even become a girl. I could turn off any feelings or biological processes I found annoying and I could enhance the ones I wanted to particularly explore. I left home for a month and took a whirlwind tour so that it would know I was aware of the options that were open to a sexually mature member of the species Homo Sapiens.

Then I did what most people do; I went back home, walked to the outskirts of town, and drew up plans for a modest but very classy villa. Prime Intellect did the rest and I was a householder. My new neighbors and my parents and my old neighbors came to my housewarming the next evening. They complimented my taste in architecture and congratulated me and brought mounds of Authentic food lovingly prepared at labor by actual human hands.

Several local girls made themselves obvious and toward the late evening the adults mysteriously drifted away so I could be tempted. I let a brunette named Lita accompany me upstairs. She was sixteen but small for her age so we were about the same height. She started my education in the arts of love in my own recently designed bedroom as the moons threw double shadows.

I was now a man, and in the tradition of my people I would begin to earn a place in our society. One day I would marry Lita or some other girl like her and have a kid like myself. For all those amazing options Prime Intellect had shown me, it was the way I had been brought up and I saw no reason to abandon everything that was familiar to me.

Boy was I wrong.

---

On my eighteenth birthday Prime Intellect delivered a big flat package of paper, the kind of thing my people use for official announcements. Inside was an invitation that I found a bit florid until Prime Intellect verified its particulars.

Galan, I have asked Prime Intellect to choose for me at random a man of your particular age and experience for an opportunity which is considered a great honor in some social circles. An ordinary person who wishes to visit one of the Twelve Casinos is allowed a once in a lifetime free gift of a thousand units of our currency, the Bugsy. In exchange for a week of your time which I promise will involve no hardship or physical pain on your part I will pay you a million Bugsies, which will allow you to live in style for a long time if you wish in an environment where this is a great and highly restricted privilege.

-- Orville Piazza

A few of my neighbors knew of Piazza; he is one of the most famous people in all of Cyberspace. He is one of the Twelve Wise Guys who remade the casino industry in the dawning days of Cyberspace. Born before the Change he and his friends crafted a vision of how the casino experience could be perpetuated in a world where anybody could have anything just for asking.

Their answer was simplicity itself; their casinos are their worlds and while you are visiting them you can't have anything you want from Prime Intellect. You must buy everything with Bugsies. It is naturally considered a great privilege to live in such an environment for any length of time. There were of course other casinos; you could even have Prime Intellect build you one just for asking, but that didn't mean you could get people to visit. It wouldn't have the cachet of staying in Orville Piazza's casino.

And oh yes, if you ever placed a bet in any other casino you were blackballed from the Twelve for life, your Bugsies evaporated and your persona non grata. You couldn't hide it, because Prime Intellect knows all and it tells all when you agree to enter someone else's world. "Life" is a long time to be blackballed in Cyberspace, and people take things like that seriously.

Some of my neighbors had visited one or another of the Twelve Casinos and spent the thousand Bugsies you get just for being born and they reported that it was "interesting." These casinos would be a familiar environment in some ways, limited like our own world in the amount of magic you could demand. But they were bent, I was warned, to bring out the worst in people.

Still the upshot was that it was a rare privilege so I had Prime Intellect send me over.

---

To my surprise I emerged not in the famous casino, but in a Disclaimer Room. These are common enough in Cyberspace but I had never been through one so I read the sign closely. In the casino all my natural biological functions would work normally, which is a tradition of my own people. I couldn't leave except by making my way back to this terminus, or going through an authentic Death experience. No Avatar sex; if I wanted to get laid, I'd have to find an actual human to do it with, another tradition of my people. All games were guaranteed by Prime Intellect to be random and unbiased. My Bugsies were linked to me and could not be stolen, though under the right conditions they could be given and/or scammed. Physical violence would be permitted only in certified venues. I touched the acknowledgement and walked through.

I was in a bus terminal full of milling people. There was a bewildering clash of dress styles; I recognized a few of them from my adolescence tour. A big sign declared:

Piazza's Desert Sand Casino 50 kilometers
Transportation Options:
  • Crowded Shuttle Bus on hour every hour 20B
  • Taxi with Annoyingly Talkative Driver 50B
  • Limousine with Stereo Sound and Wet Bar 250B
  • Individual Teleportation Booth 1000B
  • Walking Free (water 1B/liter)
I realized there was a new bulk in my pockets. I reached in and found a dozen three centimeter diameter tokens. They were white, red, green, and black, labelled E1B, E5B, E25B, and E100B respectively. I added them up and realized they were my thousand Bugsies.

Near the teleportation booth there was an Authentic telephone labelled "courtesy phone" which, amazingly enough, was free. I picked it up and a nasal female voice answered, "Desert Sand Casino."

"I'd like to speak to Orville Piazza," I said.

"You and half the rest of the world, honey," the receptionist said.

"I'm invited. I'm Galan Quarznap."

Her mood changed instantly.
"Oh, I'm so sorry honey, let me put you through."
The phone went silent and then rang three times. A gruff male announced:
"Domino One."

"Mr. Piazza? This is Galan..."

"Ahhhhhh, of course my young friend. Don't tell me, you're at the terminal aren't you? Let me run a comp for you. Okay, you have credit in the teleporter, I'll meet you at this end in a couple of minutes."

"Uh, thanks."

But he had already hung up. When I approached it the teleport booth glowed green for me, and when I stepped in the far door went transparent and let me open it.

---

The teleporter dumped me off in the VIP check-in lounge. A perky clerk dressed in a whisper flashed me the most fake smile I'd ever seen and asked if I had credit.

"I'm Galan..."

"Quarznap, yes. You've been comped into the Mussolini suite, very nice digs. For seven days. For your information, most of the signs in the resort are designed to be confusing, but since you're a VIP if you touch any of them they will become much more revealing and they will call a service avatar on your request to show you on your way."

"That's nice," I said. "Are you a ... service avatar?"

She cringed. "Holy fuck no. Avatars have silver metallic skin. You can see them a mile away. A lot of the dealers are avatars."

"You're human?"

"I should hope so, junior."

"It's just strange to see a human doing such a, well..."

"Menial job?"

"I guess that's it."

"I'm busted out. There are faster ways to earn it back but I'm not that hard up. Meanwhile a lot of people are watching you, Mr. Million Bugsies."

"Right. Out of curiosity, I suppose it normally costs Bugsies to stay in this suite?"

"Oh, no," she said earnestly. "To stay in a dictator suite you have to gamble. But if you gamble at that level, you'd probably be losing thirty, forty thousand a day. Give or take. And you'd have to have at least a million to stay afloat more than a couple of days without busting out."

"Consider me properly grateful then."

I signed the register and went into the casino proper, where Orville Piazza was waiting for me.

---

Orville Piazza was the biggest, most corpulently unhealthful and all around ugly person I'd ever met. My own people eschew what the elders call "big magic" but most of us slow and eventually stop our ageing. Some of us will get a little older and then regress, a few even back to adolescence. But why would anyone allow themselves to get fat, slovenly, balding, and have badly aligned stained teeth? Much less smoke cigars, when there were much more efficient and pleasant means of self-stimulation?

"You are shocked at my appearance," he said, and while his voice scolded his eyes twinkled.

"It's a bit startling. Is there a reason?"

"My own rules, Galan. Casinos are about decadence and corruption. I have never liked casino hosts with perfect smiles and measured patter. I want a man who will gamble with me. Come, let me show you around."

The Desert Sand Casino was mostly an endless procession of tables; they offered blackjack, craps, poker, and a dozen more obscure games. Most of the dealers appeared human but had silver metallic skin. A few were actually human, I guessed earning out more Bugsies like the hostess in the VIP reception area.

There was an endless patter of voices; it was a large crowded place. There were shouts in the distance and sometimes up close. Piazza seemed to be listening as he talked to me, as if this was the music of the spheres.

"If this was a pre-Change casino you'd need earplugs," he said as we crossed an open lobby. "They had these things called slot machines everywhere. The rule was you didn't know the rules, you put in your money and pulled the handle and crossed your fingers. They made all kinds of racket. A place like this would have been filled with them, all clanging and jangling and driving you deaf. The other Eleven casinos do have some slot machines, but I hate the damn things and I won't have them in my place. My feeling is if you're gonna gamble like that you might as well wirehead and get it over with."

"Wirehead?"

"Don't worry about it."

We went through a secret door and climbed stairs to an overlook where you could see just how huge the casino is. At the touch of a primitive switch we were allowed telescopic binocular vision to zoom in on the action.
"You're probably wondering why I asked you here," Piazza said.

"I figured you would get around to telling me."

"Out in the world, in your world, you can be anybody. But not here. In this world you have to be you, and I am a strict man so I abide by my own rules. The one thing I can't do here is be someone else. More than that I can't be someone who doesn't know what I know. I can't experience my casino the way a newcomer would. I am nearly four hundred years old, Galan. In all that time I have never left this place and I never intend to leave it.

"What I want from you is your experience. Are you familiar with sense sharing?"

"I've never done it, but I've heard of it."

"I will set you loose in my casino. Not with your million Bugsies, but with my own line of credit. Do as you wish. I will experience what you experience and we will be able to communicate unobtrusively. I will not control you, just listen and advise. And for a week of this I will give you the million Bugsies to do with as you will."

"How much money is a million Bugsies, anyway?"

"Five Bugsies get you the unlimited mediocre buffet. Remember, you have to eat here or you die and get kicked out. For fifty you can get a pretty decent restaurant meal. It costs thirty a night to stay in a small, mangy room. A nice suite costs a hundred a night, and of course there are better accommodations available. You've seen the rates for transport to the terminus. Taking the place of an avatar at a job, like the receptionist you met, earns you a hundred or so a day."

"It doesn't seem like many people would ever get a million then. You'd have to work, what, thirty years without spending any?"

"There are other ways to earn more. Some people are gambling sharks. Some are entertainers. If you're famous or put on an impressive show you can earn a million in a few nights. You'll see we have quite a few high rollers."

"Including me."

"If you wish."

"Well let's do it then."

Piazza handed me a clipboard. He picked up a phone and said a few words, then handed the receiver to me. "This is Prime Intellect," the voice on the other end says. "You must read the contract and affirm it to accept Orville's terms."
"I agree to let Orville Piazza voluntarily monitor my sensorium and open subvocal communications with me for the next seven days. In return I will have house credit for room, board, and gambling during the seven day period and I will receive one million Bugsies of my own at the end of the seven days. I now affirm this deal."

--Excellent, Orville said. He now spoke inside my head without moving his lips. He gestured toward the door. Go forth and explore. I'll give you some hints if you want.

So I returned to the casino floor, theoretically a very wealthy man in the local currency. I wandered around watching people gamble. There were little rituals for buying in, for getting credit, for placing bets and getting paid.
--I don't know how to play any of these games, I told Orville silently.

--Don't worry. Wander over to the left and I'll teach you to play Craps.

I found a crap game that wasn't too crowded and watched for awhile. Orville explained the rules of the simplest bets. Craps, it turned out, was not one game but nearly forty different games all played at the same time. Dealing it was complicated, but one of the dealers was human.
--Difficult job, Orville told me. He makes nearly two hundred a day. By the way, go ahead and ask for a marker.
I gestured to the human dealer and he tapped the silver-skinned box man and a moment later they handed me a stack of purple cheques. These were labelled 500B and it seemed to suck all the air off the table when I received them. The other players were mostly throwing red and green cheques around. By Orville's standards this was chump change but at this table it was a fortune.
--Don't be shy, Orville said.
So I put two purple cheques on the pass line. The shooter rolled an eleven and the human dealer paid me the equivalent of two weeks of his own skilled labor, just like that.

The game had a seductive rhythm, ebbing and flowing as points were established and then either made or missed. Many bets stayed up waiting for a particular number to resolve them, sentinels of hope and despair as the dice rolled around them. I progressed to making come bets and placing numbers and after awhile I realized the table was annoyingly crowded, I had more than doubled my marker, and I was ravenously hungry.

--Put your money on the felt and ask for color. You need to eat.
The dealer made change, combining all of my cheques into a few of very high denomination, after taking out the original marker. Then he handed me two gray cheques labelled 5000B, a couple of oranges labelled 1000B, and a couple of 100B blacks.
--There is no point in someone of your stature sampling the buffet, but why don't you eat at the steakhouse? That will give you some perspective when you see what's available to the truly rich.
So I had steak and a baked potato competently but not spectacularly prepared. At Orville's insistence I also had a cocktail, a distilled liquor called Bourbon diluted with orange juice. I was not unfamiliar with alcohol but it packed quite a punch.

Then I made my way to my suite. It took me asking a sign for directions to find that there is a special elevator that goes only to the Dictator Suites. Mine, the Mussolini, was second from the top. There were only five. The elevator had an actual human operator.

--You should tip him.
Orville had been quiet while I ate and I was startled.
--He can help you with things. Toss him a black cheque from the crap game as you leave.
I did as Orville suggested and the operator flashed me a sly grin. I wondered what sort of service I had just bought and then I turned around and gasped. The Mussolini Suite was enormous; I could have entertained a party of a hundred with elbow room to spare. I explored and found seven bathrooms, five lushly themed bedrooms, and half a dozen other richly appointed rooms.
--Well, what do you think?

--Of course I could have had this back home just by asking for it, but it would have been considered tacky.

--Here excess is prestige and prestige is displayed by excess. Every piece of furniture in here was hand-made by a skilled human craftsman. There are no copies anywhere. I paid almost ten million Bugsies to outfit just this one suite.

I emptied my pockets and prepared to bathe. I thought of Orville watching me through my own eyes and shrugged it off; it was the deal I'd made after all. I looked at the cheques and realized that the ones I'd won at the crap game were not the same as the ones I'd gotten at the terminus.
--Orville, why are there two types of cheques? The thousand I got for being born have "E" before the denomination and they're lighter colored.

--Those are Earned Bugsies. There is a distinction between currency you earn through labor and what you win gambling. You can't give earned currency to other people; you can only spend it on casino services and wager it yourself.

--Why?

--It's to prevent scammers from schmoozing the thousand Bugsies off of people who think they won't ever visit and adding them together to augment their own bankroll. What you earn is yours and can only be used for your benefit. What you win at the tables is free money, though. You can throw that away in any way you care to imagine and nothing will stop you.

That night I crashed on a bed the size of my hometown and dreamed of the crap game.

The next morning, Bugsy taught me Blackjack. Blackjack is a much simpler game to follow than Craps and a much harder one to play correctly; as Orville explained there is a mathematically optimum strategy for any Blackjack game but almost nobody ever plays it. It is even possible to beat the house by counting cards but it takes a lot of effort.

--Back in the real world we used to harrass card counters, and one nice thing about the new system is we don't have to. Some of our high rollers got that way counting cards. But most of the people who try don't succeed; you have to acquire a lot of money some other way and most people don't really play right.

--I can see why, this is a pain in the ass. Do I hit this sixteen?

--Always hit sixteen against a ten. You've probably already lost it anyway.

Sure enough I busted and the dealer turned up another ten. Blackjack was not as friendly to me as Craps and I played through another ten thousand Bugsy marker without ever being up.
--Normally you'd have to pay off that marker before getting another, but I'm quietly paying it off for you so you can keep the cheques you won yesterday. Someone playing at your level will be expected to have money for other things.

--And I'm playing for your entertainment. Are you getting your money's worth?

--So far. Let's drift over and check out the Bookie.

The Bookie had a huge area with its own low and high roller areas; if Blackjack had seemed like a challenge this was like designing Prime Intellect from scratch. The Bookie would take a bet on any real-life event that had an element of uncertainty. The odds, Orville explained, were set by the Bookie to balance the action, not the sometimes unknowable "true odds." So if you were smarter than the other bettors you could come out ahead, and as with the card counters some of the high rollers had come up in just this way.

I scrolled through the categories and my eyes glazed over. I could bet on anything imaginable. I located the category for my own homeworld and realized with a start that I could have bet on whether I would have accepted Orville's proposal (fourteen thousand Bugsies had changed hands when I did), and now I could bet on whether I'd finish out the seven days, whether I'd get laid, and whether I'd ever return to the casino after I left.

--The Bookie will not accept bets where you have a clear ability to affect the outcome, Orville advised.

--I'm just amazed at what you can bet on. Where the hell do I start?

--Why don't we keep it simple and see if there's an in-house event. The mini-arena is to your right, through those open doors.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES! a flashing sign announced. In the center of the arena was an area blocked off by a transparent shimmering barrier. Separated from one another in two small cages of this same barrier were a naked man and woman. Each of them had a knife. All around people shouted and waved and debated.

In smaller print the sign announced that "Tamara vs. Ludlow" would be an amateur class Death match, a knife fight to the point of biological death. The fighters had had to put up money, ten thousand Bugsies, which the casino had matched to create a forty thousand Bugsy prize.

Someone tapped me on the back.

"Ludlow's all in," a strange man advised. "If he loses it's back to bartending if he wants to stay in the casino and try to raise another stake."

"Really. Seems like he's a bit bigger than the girl anyway."

"Yeah, but she's mean. He'll have to dance fast to keep from getting filleted."

Orville spoke up in my head. --Why don't you put a bet on the fight? Whichever one you prefer. Say a thousand. There's nothing quite like watching a fight when you have a stake.

I made my way to the Fight Book and gave him an orange cheque to bet on Tamara. I was advised that my bet would pay at 2.5:1 if I won; a lot of people were banking on Ludlow's desperation and greater strength.

At the appointed hour the small cage fields disappeared, leaving only the big enclosure separating the fighters from the bettors. They circled one another warily, probing for weaknesses.

"He has the reach on her too," someone said and I thought of my orange cheque.

--Don't they make some effort to match the fighters' skills? I asked Orville.

--Not really. The odds tend to sort themselves out accordingly, and who are we to tell Tamara not to try to hang another dick on her wall?

Almost too fast to follow the woman launched herself away from Ludlow, bounced off of the restraining field and flashed by him, slashing his chest. He swiped at her but missed. The bettors shouted and cheered and jeered and blood began to run down his belly as they squared off again.
"Surface wound," the man who had advised me said. "Lucky bitch."
He pressed her and managed to nick her a couple of times then she darted out from the trap he was trying to set at the last moment, sliding beneath his reach and slashing his ankle as he tried to turn. As she made to stand up he slashed at her and cut her left arm pretty deeply. Then as he continued to swing she lay back instead of standing up and jabbed upward with both feet, kicking him solidly in the balls.

He howled, then she darted in, stabbed him in the left thigh and darted away before he could react in his haze of pain. Blood began jetting out of the wound, and she stood back smiling grandly. A few of the bettors saw the writing on the wall and began drifting away from the arena.

"Fucking hell," the man behind me said. "Cut his fucking femoral artery. Get up, man! Do something!"
But between his balls and his blood loss Ludlow was looking less capable of doing something by the moment. Finally Tamara approached him and took his knife; he was still alive but too weak to stop her. Then while he was still conscious she castrated him. At that point the Book announced that the conclusion was foregone and began paying out bets.

I collected my winnings and looked back. Ludlow had disappeared and Tamara was holding her trophy high in her right hand, taking bows.

--I didn't realize you were serious about her hanging dicks on her wall.

--It's a common practice among fighters. Of course he'll have an organ when Prime Intellect reconstructs him but she will keep her trophy, it's part of the culture. By the way, congratulations on your perception; I'd have bet on Ludlow myself.

--I feel like I need to take a bath.

--Bah, you didn't force them into that arena.

--Never seen so much blood in my life.

--She fought for you, Galan. Won you hard currency. I can guarantee that the first thing she will do with her money is go down to the parking garage and find some pathetic gimp to grovel for her.

--Parking garage? Why would you have a parking garage?

--Never mind. Let me show you Mini-Baccarat.

I spent the rest of the day playing Mini-Baccarat for the table maximum. It was as complicated as betting on a coin toss but a bit more teasing because of the way cards were dealt and added up modulo 10 to get the result. The rules for dealing an extra card for the "Bank" and "Player" hands were obscure but our dealer had silver skin so I didn't worry about that. Several of the people playing with me were keeping track of the results, looking for trends, but Orville advised me that that was a fool's errand and I should just enjoy staying in action without much thought.

The next day I graduated to actual Baccarat, which is not played in the low-roller areas of the casino. This was the same game as Mini-Baccarat mathematically and in wagering, but it was staged with a degree of pomp and grandeur that were truly impressive for a figurative coin toss. In the full game there was actually a "Player" among the players who drew the cards for the Player hand. You could still bet either player or bank, even if you were the Player, but if you bet against yourself you were apt to clear the table of money as the others waited for lightning to strike you.

The table minimum was five thousand Bugsies and I went through four markers before I caught a positive trend. The players were of a different caliber than those on the main casino floor. A human cocktail waitress served us, and the jigger of aged Scotch whiskey I tasted on the advice of another player went down with magical smootheness. On the other side of the table a player was having her deliver lines of white powder each time she came by, which he would snort through a straw.

--What is that stuff? I asked Orville.

--Powder cocaine. Makes you feel like God for about twenty seconds. My advice is to stay away from it and gamble instead. Much more fun.

Since I was doing it for him to experience, I took his advice. After I ran out a fifth marker I decided I was tired of playing.

I wandered around the high-roller area and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a Viking seated next to a naked woman at a Blackjack table. On second look I realized the naked woman wasn't just seated next to him, her hands were bound behind her back and she was chained to him by a collar and leash.

--Are you seeing this?

--Quite so. A luck slave, I'd guess.

--There was nothing like this downstairs.

--We generally try to maintain a certain level of decorum, but if you are betting high enough, we will overlook a lot. And he is betting in ten thousand Bugsy units. You could get away with dragging your luck slave across the floor downstairs but most people down there can't afford one and those who can wouldn't be caught dead among the yokels spending their first thousand.

--Wait a second, "afford?" How do you go about buying a person?

--Drift closer and I will explain something. You do realize that I am paying you a million Bugsies to basically do what I want for a week?

--But that's not the same, you aren't humiliating me and...

At that moment the Viking pounded the table and roared something that was probably obscene in a language I didn't know, then he pressed a button on his wrist console and the naked woman yelped. She stiffened and shook for a few moments and then he released the button.

I was speechless.

--Or torturing you when your luck is bad. I'd say you cut a better deal than she did.

--How did he do that? I thought this was an Authentic environment for the most part.

--Oh it's very Authentic, her collar can deliver an electric shock. I've looked them up, he has a hundred thousand Bugsies in escrow for their contract. I'd guess half of that is her basic fee and the rest is for penalties against the likely case that he does something over the top.

--And how long does she have to put up with this for fifty or a hundred thousand Bugsies?

--Records say one week. She has three days to go. She can call it off early but then she forfeits her fee; it's an interesting dynamic. The further she goes the more he can abuse her because if she opts out she forfeits any consideration for what she's already gone through.

--This is really sick.

--She is not a known masochist. Her fee would probably be lower if she was. Also the Bookie will give odds of four to one on her bailing out. The consensus seems to be that she will make it and collect her fee.

--And then?

--Most likely you will find her downstairs, acting like a queen among people who don't know about this and mostly wouldn't care if they did.

I finally tore myself away and drifted back to the restaurant area where Orville had promised me a true delight. Not just a human chef but a human crew prepared for me a four-course meal in the Cajun tradition that was just superb; the wines and rum were handcrafted in individual batches and no copies were made of anything. It was a one of a kind meal that nobody else would ever experience, and I was given to understand that it cost almost a thousand Bugsies. But even this wasn't the ultimate dining experience available in the Desert Sand Casino; Orville said he was saving the best for last.
--You are feeling aroused. I hope you realize that casino keeps trained people who earn their Bugsies by providing relief. At your level of play their services would be comped.

--I don't know how I feel. That whole scene to day with the Viking guy...

--Well I know how you feel, and you feel aroused. You've just never thought about it before.

--It's not supposed to be possible to coercively control other people.

--And it isn't. They have to agree to be coercively controlled under terms that Prime Intellect will accept. It won't accept a contract like that if it doesn't think you understand what you are getting into.

--And your trained professionals will do things like that?

--Oh, no. Our trained professionals will roll in the hay with you and a few of them will even play dominant for you if you crave that sort of thing, but if you want someone to go under for you that spectacularly you need unearned Bugsies and you need to go to the parking garage.

--I was going to ask you about the parking garage. Why would you have a parking garage when nobody comes here in cars?

--Because the underclass needs a place to do its thing, and nobody wants them doing it on the sidewalk out in front of the building.

I did not go to the parking garage, but I did flip through the directory and at Orville's urging I picked out a very pretty lady who agreed to spend the night with me and perform a basic range of sexual services. In the minutes it took her to arrive I found myself remembering the Bookie who would take a bet on whether I got laid during Orville's assignment. People totally unrelated to me would trade money based on what I was about to do.

When she arrived she was gracious and understanding, and she worked hard to perform her duty. But as much as I thought of her tempting body, of the other girls I'd bedded, even of the Viking and his slave my own body refused to perform. In the end she slipped away and I drifted off to a fitful sleep, dreaming of the button that would make the Viking's slave writhe in pain.

--Fuck gambling. Today I want to go to the parking garage.

--That's agreeable. I'd like to see it through your eyes anyway, and you've only a couple of days left.

These elevators went down, and opened into a canyon of bare white concrete. It was indeed a parking garage, laid out with ramped floors leading from level to level so that wheeled vehicles could be stored. But there were no cars; instead a small city had been built of cardboard boxes, wood scraps, and other waste materials. People milled around aimlessly until they noticed me.
You need to go down a couple of levels, Orville advised.
I passed men playing games like Chess and Go. I passed people practicing swordcraft with cardboard swords, and people practicing other fight techniques. I passed people cooking food over trash fires and eating from much worn bowls. A couple of levels down I found the prostitutes.

There were already other men here, a couple of whom were drifting back up with women on their arms. I remembered the promise of the Disclaimer Room that violence and theft were impossible, and quickly verified with Orville that that was true here, too. Then I pulled four orange 1000B cheques out of my pocket and fanned them so that all could see.

"Mister, a man who comes down here and flashes that kind of money doesn't just want to get laid. What exactly do you want to buy?"

"Anything."

"Anything can get real expensive. Even more expensive than that if you don't narrow it down some."

"I want power. I want to know that she has to do what I say."

The girl who had spoken up nodded. "Well, we got people here who do that, though I'm not one of 'em. Power doesn't exist unless you demonstrate it. What are you looking for? Pain? Humiliation? You want to slap her around or you want to cut her up into little bits while she watches in a mirror? Or you want to order her around and humiliate her? Or you want to take the magic hardon pill and fuck her to death? You need to be more specific."

I had not really thought through the details of what I wanted to do, and I realized that these ladies with their experience might help clarify my focus. "I saw this Viking guy with a slave girl. He tortured her with an electric collar whenever he lost. I can't stop thinking about it."
Another girl spoke up. "I went under for that guy once. Calls himself Ragnar. Right fucking horrible bastard, killed me with an axe on my last day and laughed. Turns out he planned to pay the penalty all along. I bet that's Ginelle with him now."

"Bookie seems to think she'll make it."

"That's just all the guys betting to set the odds. I hope you aren't that fucked up, Mister."

"I don't know. I don't think so."

Another new voice: "For two of those orange cheques I'll give you twenty-four hours, any kind of sex, and any kind of whipping. Whipping's cathartic. Very primal. Get it out of your system. Oh, and you can tie me up if you want. No blood sport, no Death tricks, I opt out and keep the money if you go over the top."

"Be careful, Madri."

"Deal," I said.

The girl looked as if she was thinking, and then I heard a voice in my head that wasn't Orville's. It was Prime Intellect. She has accepted your terms. Do you agree to put her fee in escrow in order to bind this contract?

I thought yes and two of my orange cheques vanished.

"Twenty-four hours," I said. "Let's get up to my room. I'm in the Mussolini suite."
There was a muffled gasp from the ladies standing around, and Madri made a perfect "O" of astonishment with her mouth. Then we made our way to the elevators, and the Mussolini Suite, and the implements of pain which were assembled for me at her direction.

Although her contract was only for a day she stayed with me for the rest of my own obligation; I told her about Orville and we made an odd threesome out of it. She shared my suite and shared my comps. She sat with me as I tried to learn poker and lost my ass to a roomfull of sharks. She even asked me to whip her again on my last night. Orville said she was a natural masochist who would be making big bucks one day in the heavy trade, which was a fast track to high-rolling celebrity.

When Orville's voice went silent in my head I tipped her ten thousand Bugsies and sent her on her way. Shortly thereafter Orville Piazza graced the doorstep of the Mussolini Suite in his own infamous corpulant physical person. He was holding a cloth bag.

"Well that was amusing," he said. "Here is your fee, and we need you out of the suite. You're welcome to stay at the casino under all the usual terms. You're a rich man now."

"It doesn't seem like I gave you a million Bugsies worth of excitement," I said.

"Oh, that remains to be seen. I wonder if you have stopped to consider exactly what it is that gives the Bugsy its value?"

"I don't know. Because you limit the number of them?"

"Partly, but there really isn't much you can buy with Bugsies that you can't have for the asking back where you came from. In the old days currencies had to have something behind them to give them implicit value. Something you could trade them for to demonstrate their worth. They had to be 'backed.'

"The Bugsy is backed by human misery. The one thing you can buy with a Bugsy that you can't simply ask Prime Intellect for is the suffering of another bona fide human being. Not a facsimile or a simulation or a recording, but a real live person who feels as you feel. There aren't many places in Cyberspace where you can have that at all, and most of them are expensive in other very personal ways. You asked me why we have a parking garage; that, Galan, is why we have a parking garage. The parking garage is the Desert Sand Casino's version of Fort Knox."

He stepped aside and gestured; it was time to leave. I took the bag and I took the elevator and I took the teleporter to the terminus. From there I could go back through the Disclaimer Room and then home, or anywhere else in Cyberspace, the vast overwhelming majority of places where everything did not boil down to how much cash you had.

Of course I could come back one day. Maybe I would. I was a rich man. I could find another girl and own her for awhile.

On a whim I opened my bag and looked at the cheques. They were gray cheques, very light gray. An unfamiliar shade. Every single one of them said E5000B.

Earned money. I could not give it to another person, for example someone like Madri, in exchange for a period of servitude.

I closed the bag and made my way back to the teleporter. It ate one of my gray cheques and gave me four orange in return, and I stepped through it back into the casino.

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Poll
Most Compelling Compulsion...
o Sex 15%
o Power 11%
o Survival 23%
o Sadism 5%
o Masochism 3%
o True Love 24%
o Avarice 2%
o Belonging 12%

Votes: 189
Results | Other Polls

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Display: Sort:
A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace | 84 comments (53 topical, 31 editorial, 0 hidden)
(Sigh) (3.40 / 5) (#3)
by Kasreyn on Sat May 17, 2003 at 09:53:17 PM EST

I like you, localroger, and usually I like your fiction. But good god, what were you on when you wrote this?

No offense, but it's boring, kind of childish, and has no "grab" to it. I had to reread the first four para's a few times because my brain refused to pay attention. It just didn't capture my interest, so -1. By all means, keep trying, though.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Well... (4.20 / 5) (#5)
by localroger on Sat May 17, 2003 at 09:56:44 PM EST

If it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for you. Prime Intellect seems to have this all-or-nothing effect on people.

Still, I think you might find it rewarding if you give it a chance. I was trying /not/ to do what I did in the novel itself, and go over the top at the outset. But I think it reaches a very satisfying conclusion.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

I have to disagree with you here. (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by engine16 on Sun May 18, 2003 at 06:53:36 AM EST

I must admit that I've not yet read your novel, and while this story does raise my interest level in doing so, it is not particularly compelling or satisfying on its own merit. It smacks of world building over character building and the conclusion, though intriguing, is dispersed in too much water to pack any genuine punch. I think the actual writing is top notch, but the depravity you set out to explore here is only skin deep, and the suffering is tragically thin and inconsequential.

Ape Infinitum

[ Parent ]
Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by trane on Tue May 20, 2003 at 10:14:45 AM EST

To enhance the "tragically thin and inconsequential" suffering, the author could add crack. There could be an underground level with crack whores and hustlers and dealers and cops and clucks and tricks and all that other fun stuff. Then the "tragically thin and inconsequential" suffering could be elevated to current levels!

[ Parent ]
Based on your own experiences? (5.00 / 3) (#4)
by Anonymous 242 on Sat May 17, 2003 at 09:55:52 PM EST

Misery makes the world go round?

Not the world, but definitely the casino (nt) (4.60 / 5) (#6)
by localroger on Sat May 17, 2003 at 09:59:07 PM EST


I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

can I vote just the poll to the front page? {NT} (4.50 / 2) (#8)
by clover_kicker on Sat May 17, 2003 at 10:10:04 PM EST


--
I am the very model of a K5 personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.

Sorry localroger, (3.25 / 8) (#13)
by debacle on Sat May 17, 2003 at 10:26:18 PM EST

But this seems kind of "gay" in the "hey, this Farscape episode is just like that one a few weeks ago" way of things.

-1, sorry man.

It tastes sweet.

gay (3.00 / 5) (#28)
by rhyax on Sun May 18, 2003 at 01:10:27 AM EST

that use of the word gay is offensive.

[ Parent ]
offensive (5.00 / 14) (#29)
by Bad Harmony on Sun May 18, 2003 at 01:29:44 AM EST

that use of the word offensive is gay.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

ha (2.33 / 3) (#50)
by rhyax on Sun May 18, 2003 at 07:50:23 PM EST

hey, that's pretty clever. regardless, i am going to explain why i think it is offensive.

When a word for a class of people becomes a synonym for a derogatory perceived characteristic of that class you are stereotyping every time you use that word. It would be like using the word "mexican" to mean "lazy", or "black" to mean "poor". It is offensive in all combinations. If it is your goal to be offensive to gay people however, I suppose that is your right. Many people do not think gay people should have equal rights, and that may be your honest viewpoint. If you do not wish to be offensive however, I was only pointing out that it was so, as many people seem to use that syntax unaware that it offends many people.

[ Parent ]

Whose Word is it Anyway? (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by Bad Harmony on Mon May 19, 2003 at 08:40:31 AM EST

Gay is not an unambiguous word. A look at the dictionary reveals a number of meanings and usages. I don't think that the "gay community" owns the word. "Gay" as a synonym for homosexual is a relatively new usage.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

so? (none / 0) (#70)
by rhyax on Tue May 20, 2003 at 01:09:40 AM EST

so, which if those other definitions do you think people are using when they use it as a synonym for stupid/weird?

[ Parent ]
how about (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by majik on Thu Jun 05, 2003 at 07:46:41 PM EST

happy and carefree?
Funky fried chickens - they're what's for dinner
[ Parent ]
Cease and Desist (5.00 / 4) (#31)
by gay mafia on Sun May 18, 2003 at 02:11:28 AM EST

We stole that word first. Don't try to take it from us. Your appropriation of the word gay to mean 'lame' will not be tolerated. That is all.

[ Parent ]
Hit me. (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by Danny DeVito on Sat May 17, 2003 at 10:30:45 PM EST



Eight, you bust, report to the parking garage (nt) (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by localroger on Sat May 17, 2003 at 10:41:30 PM EST


I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

-1...just didn't do it (4.00 / 4) (#25)
by skelter on Sun May 18, 2003 at 12:25:37 AM EST

I was glued to the screen for two hour long stretches while reading Metamorphosis, but this just seems like well researched fan fiction. I think the world of the prime intellect needs to let be...to stand alone. I vote this short down because Metamorphosis needs no fleshing out. When I finished it, I did not wonder about economics in a world where man can have everything...death jockeying had already made it clear to me.

If you came up with a theme that involved something other than human misery it might be a worthwhile addition(not that it is a tasteless theme for this specific setting, or anything like that...this just doesn't tell me anything that I didn't already know).

+1 FP, as I expected (4.25 / 4) (#34)
by psychologist on Sun May 18, 2003 at 03:09:48 AM EST

I must admit, I skimmed through a bit of the middle part, where the descriptions were getting a bit repetitive, but all the same, a very intelligent, cohesive and interesting story.

I suppose, for many people here, the story will be inaccesible because the premis is unfamiliar and the topic it deals with is not one a normal person is confronted with usually.

My only suggestion would be to trim the middle casino bits a bit - I'm not interested in gambling at all, andd I just skipped over that bit.

Staunchly loyal reenactment (2.81 / 16) (#37)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Sun May 18, 2003 at 05:27:44 AM EST

+1 FP, it is so beautiful that I wept.
Like most other voters, I haven't 
actually read it, but I obey the laws
of K5.  Vote and weep, fellow denizens.
        /
#####  /
##  \ 
# o o 
| d _\
\  o  
 \__/ 


Dishonest. You voted it down. (5.00 / 3) (#41)
by localroger on Sun May 18, 2003 at 08:22:39 AM EST

I mean, if you don't like it that's fine, I am an adult and I can handle the rejection. But don't tell the world you voted it up when you really voted -1.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

You miscomprehend (5.00 / 9) (#42)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Sun May 18, 2003 at 08:32:15 AM EST

When we are being us, we face left.
The reenactment was of other people.
But it was still 75% true; like 100%
of other voters, we voted on it being
fiction / localroger before reading it.
 \
  \  ####
    /  ##
    o o #
    /_  |
     =  /
    \__/


[ Parent ]
Hopeless Romantics of K5? (none / 0) (#44)
by localroger on Sun May 18, 2003 at 09:31:59 AM EST

With 59 votes True Love is winning the poll, 15 votes to a mere 12 for Survival and only 9 for that old standby Sex.

Who knew?

I can haz blog!

Re: Hopeless Romantics of K5? (none / 0) (#54)
by danceswithcrows on Sun May 18, 2003 at 10:32:22 PM EST

Could be a case of people not knowing what their motivations really are. I voted for "sex", since that seemed closest to what my real motivation is (a combination of "curiosity" and "perversity".) Maybe you should've put a vote option of " 'Other' (please write in a comment) " as is done frequently in diary polls.

Oh well. I found the story interesting, though I don't agree with the conclusion. Hope it makes it to the front page; it certainly deserves it.

Matt G (aka Dances With Crows) There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
[ Parent ]

yeah where's the "truth" option? nt. (none / 0) (#72)
by trane on Tue May 20, 2003 at 10:17:09 AM EST



[ Parent ]
jumpin jesus on crooked crucifix (4.20 / 5) (#45)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun May 18, 2003 at 11:07:25 AM EST

localroger, can't you make books on tape for these stories. I didn't do so much reading in my entire grades 1-12 combined.

Books on tape (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by Mark Atwood on Mon May 19, 2003 at 07:21:20 PM EST

I've been listening to Wil McCartny's "The Wellstone", which he has in mp3 format free on his website.  It was machine-read, but you learn to tune out the robotic voice after a few minutes.  I think the text to mp3 software is free or cheap.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by tacomacide on Tue May 20, 2003 at 10:38:39 AM EST

For 1,000 Bugsies, I'll make you MP3/Ogg Vorbis versions of these stories.

*** ANONYMIZED ***
[ Parent ]

If this story did not make the cut... (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by salimma on Sun May 18, 2003 at 01:13:50 PM EST

... would you kindly post it to your diary section? It is probably the topic that is disagreeable for some people, but as a hypothetical case study it is quite innovative.
- Michel
Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
Eric Blair

Brilliant (5.00 / 2) (#51)
by The Terrorists on Sun May 18, 2003 at 09:00:10 PM EST

Even if this is not as polished as MOPI it is VERY important for MOPI fans to encourage Mr. Williams to keep writing in prime Intellect's world. With practice the world will become second nature to him and he will be able to share it with the world in tree form.

Fucking bomb that you are submitting to Analog dude. Any luck thus far?

Watch your mouth, pigfucker. -- Rusty Foster

None submitted thus far (5.00 / 2) (#52)
by localroger on Sun May 18, 2003 at 09:16:22 PM EST

GF made this declaration after reading The Passage Home -- online, as I'd already submitted it. I am not convinced it could really get published -- it's long especially for something by an unknown author -- but it is on theme and good enough IMO.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

submissions to "Analog" (5.00 / 2) (#55)
by adamba on Sun May 18, 2003 at 11:52:20 PM EST

FYI I sent email to "Analog" asking about previously published works (including publishing on k5) and they stated categorically that they would not consider any such material. I am curious if you have heard otherwise.

Other magazines were not as strict however. F&SF said they sometimes do reprints. However they all agreed that posting on kuro5hin was considered "publishing".

- adam

[ Parent ]

I know this (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by localroger on Mon May 19, 2003 at 10:06:05 AM EST

The point being that I might submit to Analog before submitting it here.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

You are not an unknown author. (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by The Terrorists on Mon May 19, 2003 at 08:48:11 AM EST

I am sure at least half a dozen established SF authors have said nice words about you. Find them, contact them and use them.

Watch your mouth, pigfucker. -- Rusty Foster
[ Parent ]

Holey Crap! (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by CodeWright on Tue May 20, 2003 at 11:00:20 AM EST

I'm giving "The Terrorists" a 5? Who'da thunk it?

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
get someone to edit it.. (none / 0) (#84)
by Suppafly on Sun Sep 28, 2003 at 07:21:26 PM EST

I'm sure you could probably find someone online that works as an editor to edit it gratis for you.. working with a good editor seems to be what distinguishs amatuer authors from professionals more than anything else. A collection of stories in the mopi universe would be great. Or maybe go the self publishing route.. not the self publishing route where you go through one of those internet companies, but the router where you actually pay a printing company to print what you tell them to.
---
Playstation Sucks.
[ Parent ]
my fucking god (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by scatbubba on Sun May 18, 2003 at 10:13:36 PM EST

that was fantastic. nice work.

A story! Yay! (5.00 / 3) (#58)
by rapha on Mon May 19, 2003 at 05:10:59 AM EST

Something to keep me out of my world! +1 FP - Thank you!


---
NIETS IS ONMOGELIJK!

-1 (3.00 / 1) (#62)
by skyknight on Mon May 19, 2003 at 10:44:55 AM EST

Too localroger-centric.

Heh-heh. Just kidding. I've only read the introduction so far, and felt compelled to make the obvious joke before someone else beat me to it. The original Casino Odyssey quadrilogy (?) is one of my all-time favorite K5 stories, so hopefully this new installment will live up to the hype better than Matrix Reloaded did.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Why is this at 67... (none / 0) (#63)
by randyk on Mon May 19, 2003 at 05:10:08 PM EST

and yet posted to section?



Scores look weird? Read this. (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by engine16 on Mon May 19, 2003 at 05:52:29 PM EST

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/1/27/43424/8712

Now, I only figured up the story score, and I got a rating of 3.802752 - which lands it well above the 3.25 required for a section posting. A brief scan of the comment scores leads me to believe that this number would not have been lowered much by the overall comment score when averaged, so  it makes good sense that this is in the section.

95 and -20 only apply during the first 36 hours the story remains in voting.

Ape Infinitum

[ Parent ]

It's interesting. (none / 0) (#65)
by morceguinho on Mon May 19, 2003 at 06:48:06 PM EST

And i did read it :) The 7day contract gives it a reason to end but casinos are not my thing though; nor have i read the other stories. Eitherway it was entertaining.

¡Bonan Vesperton! (none / 0) (#67)
by Walabio on Mon May 19, 2003 at 10:26:12 PM EST

Diras La Vampiro, "¡Bonan Vesperton!" Al La Desmodo.

[ Parent ]
Saluton :) (none / 0) (#69)
by morceguinho on Tue May 20, 2003 at 01:07:37 AM EST

Sed oni nekrokodilu cxi tie. Mi ankaux estas en galerio.org

Gxis!

[ Parent ]

my previous comment (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by wildmage on Mon May 19, 2003 at 10:52:57 PM EST

This is my comment to one of your old diaries that you probably didn't read pertaining to MOPI.

----------------------------

It's a good story, but I don't think you should spend too much time expanding on it. It's kind of far-removed from reality. Yes, I know it's sci-fi, but it's not as believable as it would have been in the 80's.

I think you have something going with the Passages series. It doesn't break any rules of physics, and it's actually quite compelling. Reading the story through the eyes and time perception of machines is very exciting. Story lines progressing over thousands of years are very hard to come by in literature.

Even though you started the series on a Rare Earth assumption, you could add some "Others" to the galactic mix. Not aliens, but other machines created by humans. Humans created the current machines after a few thousands years of civilization. Why couldn't it have happened again at one of the other colonies? Machines with different motivations, different directives. Let the conflict ensue.

Just some suggestions.

-------------
Jacob Everist
Memoirs of a Mad Scientist
Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

Brilliant (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by trane on Tue May 20, 2003 at 10:46:51 AM EST

This story provides the answer to the standard objection I get whenever I propose a MOPI-type world to people, where you can do anything you want in your own virtual environment, be Hitler or whatever, without physically harming another real person. The standard objection is: it wouldn't be as much fun to hurt a virtual person as it is to hurt a real person. So this story is the answer: you can enter into contracts where you could be hurt or hurt others (give up some of your rights voluntarily). In a MOPI-style universe, you could still get your jollies hurting real people (as long as there were enough real people willing to enter into such contracts, which, I'm guessing, there would be).

The only part I disagree with is the last part, where the dude goes back into the casino. Personally, I would leave and get an avatar (or 100) to satisfy my sadistic desires. Gambling isn't my thing...(or hurting real people). But I suppose there are a lot around who would do as the protagonist.

critique (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by phred on Wed May 21, 2003 at 01:04:20 PM EST

I found it pornographic in a non obscene kind of way. Certainly appealled to the purient interests, yet clearly redeeming to society.

Well, I found it phonographic too - nt - (none / 1) (#79)
by Lew Dobbs on Fri May 23, 2003 at 05:26:52 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I would enjoy to see a film with this (none / 0) (#77)
by chanio on Thu May 22, 2003 at 03:18:05 AM EST

Yes, I enjoyed a lot the Clock Work Orange, The Wall, etc. etc.

I like the weather of it.

Now, read this is you want...

" You and I realize that we are conditioned. If you say, as some people do, that conditioning is inevitable, then there is no problem; you are a slave, and that is the end of it. But if you begin to ask yourself whether it is at all possible to break down this limitation, this conditioning, then there is a problem; so you will have to inquire into the whole process of thinking, will you not? If you merely say, "I must be aware of my conditioning, I must think about it, analyze it in order to understand and destroy it," then you are exercising force. Your thinking, your analyzing is still the result of your background, so through your thought you obviously cannot break down the conditioning of which it is a part.Just see the problem first, don't ask what is the answer, the solution."

more at http://bol.sourceforge.net/on-line/BookOfLife.php (it's a sort of answer-way of jumping!)
________________
Farenheit Binman:
This worlds culture is throwing away-burning thousands of useful concepts because they don't fit in their commercial frame.
My chance of becoming intelligent!

I liked it (none / 0) (#78)
by l3nz on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:25:48 AM EST

I believe the novel is nice, and mostly it is useful to give "depth" to the world of Prime Intellect. I'd encourage you to keep on exploring the world of Prime Intellect - I'd like to read a number of such short novels dissecting different aspects of life in a world enhanced by Prime Intellect.

Popk ToDo lists - yet another web-based ToDo list manager. 100% AJAX free :-)

Good story, but what niggled me. (5.00 / 2) (#80)
by Karellen on Tue May 27, 2003 at 04:10:24 PM EST

OK, I read this a while ago and while I enjoyed it there was something I couldn't quite put my finger on that annoyed me. I think I've figured it out now.

Orville doesn't appear to have any good reason for offering Galan the contract he does in the story.

As far as I can tell, there are two reasons that he could offer Galan the contract he does.

The first and most obvious is the one he tells Galan - that he wants to experience the casino as a newcomer, as someone who `doesn't know what he knows`. However, he completely fails to let Galan experience the casino as a newcomer; as someone with only E1000B to his name, as someone who has a chance of losing. The whole point of gambling is that there is risk. Galan at no point does, or indeed can do, anything that can risk anything he might care about - his credit line or his personal safety^Wcomfort. Orville just isn't going to get what he claims to want out of the experience.

What could the other reason be? The best way to figure that out is to see what he gets out of the situation (aside from his shared experiences) at the end of the story. Well, he gets a new patron who /may/ end up going and telling all his friends about the place. So, it could be a wierd way of advertising the place at a grass-roots level. But, I don't know, he seems to be giving away a lot of Bugsys per customer if that's the case, even if he gets a 100 customer return on Galan's advocacy. I think he'd just be devaluing the Bugsy, making everyone elses E1000B initial stake worth less, making them less likely to join.

For a whole bunch of reasons, him doing it as advertising just doesn't work for me, and I'm pretty sure it's not the case. If it were, I think you would have said so.

Of course, there is a third reason he does what he does; the plot demands it as a starting point to Galan's journey of discovery about what makes the casino tick, which is the great idea that you the author want to tell me, the reader. Unfortunately, the fact that I can't figure out Orville's motiviations behind his actions means that the story does come across too much as being just that, a mere device for you to tell me about this great idea you've come up with.

MOPI was, IMO, much better and didn't contain such an inconsistency. However, this was still enjoyable to read, and I hope you keep the writing up. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

K.

faust (5.00 / 1) (#81)
by androktone on Thu May 29, 2003 at 11:04:29 AM EST

i got the impression it was faustian. Galan has been hooked now, and won't ever leave the Casino, and will probably end up one of the guys on the Parking Lot.
If he'd only had 1000 bugseys, he'd have lost them all in a few hours and had to go home, before he got addicted. Perhaps the implication is that *all* the people in the Parking lot had once been millionaires. You have to gamble an awful lot before you get addicted. I assumed that that was Orvilles' purpose in making these sorts of offers.. to lure in fresh meat.


(do you think i'm reading too much into this?:p) bekki
~bekki~
[ Parent ]
androktone pretty much got it (none / 0) (#82)
by localroger on Fri May 30, 2003 at 03:41:15 PM EST

Actually if you asked Orville he'd probably tell you honestly exactly what Fakir Musafar said when Re/Search asked why he did body modification: Because it's fun!

Orville already said why he runs the casino, and while it sounds over the top if you think about it it's really the only real reason to set up something like the Desert Sand Casino in a place like Cyberspace. Orville thrives on the sense of corruption. It's the same reason he has a parking lot. It's the reason earned Bugsies are not quite as versatile as the ones you win at the games.

While it's true as others have pointed out that the customers will have a range of reasons for patronizing Orville's place, the focus in Orville's monologues is on Orville's reasons for setting the place up, for making the million-bugsy grants, and so on. And that reason is to corrupt the innocent and drive people to the worst forms of compulsive behavior.

Before the Change, Orville was a person who made his money destroying other people. Even though most casino personnel pretend that isn't their main focus it is impossible to hang around high rollers for very long without understanding how it will all turn out. The Change has freed Orville to be more open about his motivation. He no longer needs the casino to make money; he needs the casino to make losers.

Galan doesn't have to bust out and end up in the parking lot or even end up living continuously in the casino for Orville to get his payoff. Orville has experienced the sensations of another innocent as he is seduced into one of the more dubious pleasures of Cyberspace, in Galan's case the coercive control of other people. Galan might very well end up quitting the casino and joining Caroline among the Death Jockeys, or one of the countless other such paths which have undoubtably been forged.

It has been a good week for Orville. He knows exactly what Galan has been feeling up to the moment of departure -- and when he returns to quietly convert some of his E5000B's into normal pumpkins Orville will know for sure he has succeeded.

I can haz blog!
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A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace | 84 comments (53 topical, 31 editorial, 0 hidden)
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