Mar 2, 2009

Milky Way Boulevard is a 55,000 word science fiction novel, in the tradition of works by such writers as William Gibson and Philip K Dick. It was written in 2006 and sent to various publishers in Australia. Despite a lot of very positive feedback, the general theme seemed to be that no-one wanted to "take a risk" publishing philosophical sci-fi here, as there was "no market for it".
Rather than persist in banging my head against the wall, I decided to publish the novel myself, online, for anyone to read and (hopefully) enjoy.

The novel was written in small "chunks" which seemed to suit the blog format very well. To read them all in order, you can start here - - and click "Newer posts" to flick through post by post.

To get you started, here's a synopsis:
The world of dreams reveals itself in many ways. For Cass it’s a place to escape the dull grind of her lonely life, a place where she can run the twisted streets that curl off the Boulevard and live out her violent fantasies. For Detective Babbage, it’s a beat to walk, a dark, dangerous environment for him to hunt down his clues and get closer to who or what is haunting its streets. For Adlai, sitting drunk in a bar on the border between Milky Way Boulevard and the real world, it’s a place to watch his creation transform itself from a theatre of heroism into, hopefully, something more vital. It’s also a place to wallow in his regrets of the past.
These three stories intertwine throughout the novel, shading, effecting and leading each other in new directions. The one thread that pulls them together is the nightmare vision walking the streets, a rogue musical virus that infects users and feeds off their fears, growing stronger with each kill. It has been designed to take down the corporate powers of the Grid, a powerful governing entity on the Boulevard, controlling the influx of new users and the vital hardware that keeps it running. But this weapon has become twisted, harvesting any user it comes across, and threatening to take down the entire structure of the Boulevard itself.
Cass’ gang of ‘hookers’ are early victims, leaving her alone on the streets, hiding from the roving hunter gangs that feed off scraps like her. When she most needs it she finds a weapon, an evil, curved blade, called by some a Blooddrinker, that leads her towards new powers, darker powers, until she becomes a danger to all around her, a predator just as dangerous as the virus that turned her to this path in the first place.
The powers behind the Grid are not unaware of the threat that is growing in the dark corners off Grid. They send out Babbage and his fellow agents to track down the cause and neutralise it. Babbage, however, is not as predictable as his counterparts and sets out - with his somewhat invisible intellectual companion - to hunt down the source of the threat. As he delves deeper he begins to realise the true nature of the world around him, the true nature of his companion, and the true nature of himself and his origins.
Adlai sits in the bar alone watching all of this in the reflections of the window. He wants the virtual reality universe of Milky Way Boulevard to move into something more real. The dreams that live in it, including his own, are ready to evolve into beings themselves, have their own dreams and goals. He’s a god watching his creations grow, intervening only when necessary, waiting for the users he’s betrayed or stranded to find him and get their own revenge. He sees the Separation, the splitting of users from their virtual selves, as a vital step in helping the dreams evolve as well as helping the users themselves move from fantasy back into the real world, but not everyone shares his point of view.
As Cass accepts her nature as a cold blooded killer, a weapon designed to take down the virus, as Babbage accepts the unreality of himself and the world around him, as the virus hones in on its ultimate target, all are brought in to the bar and face Adlai. His dreams and fantasies meet and move off into their own reality, kites with their strings cut, leaving him to move on in his life, away from reminiscence and guilt, on to real connections with others who are also looking for something real to hold onto in a world swept up in fantasy.
Milky Way Boulevard is intended as both a genre novel of cyberpunk science fiction in the tradition of William Gibson and Philip K Dick and a more serious philosophical piece discussing the nature of faith, reality, dreams and fiction in our lives, with comparisons to Jorge Luis Borges.
Hope you enjoy it! Cheers, Tom