David Louis Edelman
'MultiReal' trade paperback cover

On the Multi Network

Society has experimented with any number of virtual communities, from the primitive text environments of the World Wide Web to the sophisticated pleasure worlds of the Sigh. But none has achieved such widespread acceptance as the multi network.

A multi projection is a virtual body that “exists” in real space. While the multied body is only an illusion created by neural manipulation, it can interact with real (”meat”) bodies in a way almost indistinguishable from physical human interaction. In order to achieve such verisimilitude, however, the architects of the multi network have had to limit many of the freedoms taken for granted in other virtual communities.

How It Works

The multi network depends on two key components: (1) the trillions of microscopic bots that process and relay sensory information to the network, and (2) neural OCHREs that manipulate the mind into “seeing” the sights, “hearing” the sounds, and “feeling” the sensations of the network.

Similarly, those who interact with multi projections allow neural manipulation to trick the mind into believing the virtual bodies are present. Participation in the multi network is not optional in civilized society. Even unconnectibles such as Islanders and Pharisees are required to wear so-called “connectible collars” so they can interact with multi projections.

Thanks to the advances in nanotechnology that have occurred since Henry Osterman’s time, multi bots are lighter than air and only molecules thick. They carpet most of the earth and populated colonies in concentrations high enough to provide sensory information almost anywhere a user would want to go, but still diffuse enough that their presence is undetectable to the naked eye.

Developments in subaether transmission have enabled multi to follow humanity to the moon, Mars and the orbital colonies.

The Physics of Multi Interaction

Because multied bodies are merely illusions of the mind and do not have physical substance, their interactions with the physical world are governed by a strict set of unbreakable rules. Some rules simply repeat the constraints of nature (e.g., a real person cannot climb on top of a virtual body). Other rules are arbitrary decisions that have been hammered out over the years by a succession of governmental agencies.

The guiding principle of multi/meat interactions is that they should be as “real” as possible. In an ideal multi experience, it would be impossible to determine whether the user was present in the flesh or in multi. The multi network, unlike other networks, does not allow for any “improvements” on the human experience. Thus, a multied body contains all the warts and blemishes the actual human body does; multied bodies cannot fly, change shapes, or perform feats of inhuman strength; and they are clothed in the same garments as their real bodies.

Occasionally, things happen in the “real” world that cannot be reconciled in a virtual environment. One can throw a stone “through” a multi projection without incident. Larger discrepancies typically result in the automatic cutting of a multi connection.

As the ubiquity of the multi network has grown, society has largely adapted. Most doors and windows are capable of accepting and responding to multi commands. Auditoriums and meeting spaces generally have amenities for both types of audiences.

The verisimilitude of the multi network is what has kept it safe during the decades it has been in widespread use. The network has built-in safeguards that will automatically cut a connection in cases of extreme pain or duress. Because its rules are so rigid and the chance for mishap so small, the Defense and Wellness Council has fiercely blocked any attempts to liberalize the network rules or allow other virtual networks to participate in public space.

Entering and Exiting the Network

Because of the high potential for danger in letting multi projections connect anywhere on the network, the network’s governing bodies insisted early in its existence that entry points on the network be restricted.

Entrances must occur in specially designated “gateway zones.” This is to prevent users from projecting to unauthorized locations, into the middle of a wall, or into some other obstruction. Most homes, businesses and public places these days are equipped with gateway zones that allow apparition onto the multi network, but it is not uncommon for restricted or sensitive locations to limit gateway zones to a central location.

A user must be standing on a specially designated red tile square to enter the network. If that physical contact is interrupted, the connection is immediately cut. Given the obvious security risk of leaving one’s body unattended, multi squares typically occur only in private residences or in heavily guarded public locations (multi facilities).

One can exit the multi network instantaneously from any spatial coordinate. Under pressure from the Prime Committee, the network administrators also developed a special device called a “disruptor” to allow authorities to cut multi connections. The Defense and Wellness Council later augmented the basic disruptor design to allow certain bio/logic code to flow into a multi projection.

Multi and Computing Power

Multi technology relies on the fact that complete verisimilitude of experience is not necessary. Often the network can take advantage of common experiences stored within the brain and from them compile a representative sample. Take the example of a multied user walking barefoot on a field of grass. The network does not take up unnecessary bandwidth and computing power determining the position of each blade of grass and calculating its effects on the user’s foot; it is deemed sufficient for the network to provide a reasonable simulation of the sensation. Randomness algorithms ensure that the simulated sensations do not feel repetitious or calculated.

The network also maintains fluency and transmission speed by taking a number of practical shortcuts. For instance, the multi network does not relay visual information for anything the user is not focusing on.

Users of the multi network understand that their experience is only a simulation, and that occasionally the simulation will differ from reality in its details. As the technology has progressed, these differences have become smaller and smaller, to the point where the typical user cannot reliably distinguish between virtual environments and reality.


Excerpted from “Infoquake” by David Louis Edelman. Copyright © 2006 by David Louis Edelman. Reprinted by permission of Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Excerpt licensed under a Creative Commons License.