David Louis Edelman
'MultiReal' trade paperback cover

Draft 1: February 6, 2001

According to the meta properties on this file, chapter 1 of “MultiReal” was begun on December 27, 2000. The last saved date is February 6, 2001. At this point, Jump 225 was still a single novel, not a trilogy, and the middle section now known as “MultiReal” was titled “Possibilities 2.0.” You’ll notice a lot of strange jargon in this draft that’s not in “Infoquake,” but many of the basic concepts were already in place.

In fact, from a simple plot perspective, this first draft is very similar to the final draft. All of the key elements were in place already six years ago. But it really took me quite a while to figure out why things were happening here, and to really understand what was going on in Len Borda’s and Magan Kai Lee’s heads.


Len Borda was dying. [1]

Perhaps not today, not this week or even this year. But the look of inevitability had settled into Borda’s eyes. The Prepared got that look sometime after they determined that the Null Current would soon be pulling them in. It was the look of the stalk of wheat that sees the thrasher just around the bend, and accepts its fate knowing that it is only making way for a newer and stronger crop that would, too, someday welcome the thrasher.

Magan Kai Lee was the new crop, and the Defense and Wellness Council would be his.

But until the time that Borda either died or ceded the stewardship of the system’s primary defensive organization to Lee, his word was inviolable. Of course, technically he couldn’t will the Council to Lee — the selection was up to the Prime Committee, and the Prime Committee could be fiercely political. But Borda had faithfully served the Committee for fifty-seven years and had been grooming Lee to be his successor for the past nine. For them not to bow to his wishes on this point was all but unthinkable.

Lee had considered hastening along Borda’s departure. Certainly he had a cadre of loyalists that would do his bidding without question — you couldn’t get far in a shadowy organization like the Defense and Wellness Council otherwise. But it seemed complex and impractical thing to do, hardly worth his time.

One of his loyalists was approaching his office now, in fact. Papizon was a master engineer, one of the best that had ever served in the memecorps. Over the years, he had risen to prominence at Code Surina [2] — had once, in fact, been a close associate of Margaret’s — and had simultaneously risen in importance to Magan Kai Lee. Lee had worked hard to recruit him to join the Council, and it was well known that Council employees never really left. Papizon was Lee’s right-hand man in the same way that Lee was Borda’s.

“Perfection, Magan,” said the lanky engineer. “I have arranged your meeting with Frederic and Petrucio Patel for this Wednesday.”

“Excellent,” replied Lee. “And Natch?”

“No luck. He has prived himself to the system and won’t take our messages.”

“And his apprentices?”

“Not responding.”

Lee pulled at his ponytail, a nervous habit that he had developed during Council Initiation many years ago. This Natch might prove to be a great nuisance. A week ago, Lee had never heard of him or his fiefcorp. And now, his face beamed handsomely from every nook of the Gossip like a drama star or a cicero. [3] “Let him stew in his limelight for a day or two. He can’t avoid me forever.”

Papizon nodded. “Until then?”

“Make his life unpleasant.”

The engineer gave the slightest tilt of his head in acknowledgement, bowed formally, and left the room. Making Someone’s Life Unpleasant was routine behavior for Lee in the Defense and Wellness Council, and as the executor of Lee’s will, Papizon was well versed in Unpleasantness. It meant snooping generations that left subtle traces of their presence. It meant shadowy figures following you in the distance that could never quite stay inconspicuous. It meant a few unexplained transactions in your Vault account, never of any great consequence, just enough to be noticed. [4]

It meant leaning on someone until Lee got his way. And Magan Kai Lee always got his way.

He had gotten his way when he became a devotee of Code Bushido, even though his family disowned him for fraternizing with an “enemy culture.” He had gotten his way when he bullied his way through the ranks of Code Bushido to become the chief security officer to the bodhisattva at the age of sixteen. He had gotten his way by muscling to prominence in the Defense and Wellness Council, killing one of his rivals with his bare hands during the course of training. [5]

The deaths brought the attention of some of the Council’s top brass, among them the middle-aged man who had taken high executive’s office a few years before Lee was born. His name was Len Borda, and he took Magan Kai Lee aside.

Lee expected punishment. The physical training to be a Council officer was rigorous, and death was not unheard-of. But some couldn’t help thinking that the openhanded palm thrust Magan used to lodge nasal bone fragments in his rival’s brain was no sparring accident.

But instead of punishing Lee, Borda did something unexpected. He promoted the young officer and took him on as a protégé. “If I can teach you one thing,” Borda had told him, “it’s that death is a crude weapon. The human mind is capable of much more devastation than any knife.” Lee had put his faith completely in Borda, and Borda taught him how to hone his brain into a deadly instrument.

Now at forty-five, Lee was lean and hungry and in his prime.

He prived his office and set the SeeNaRee to that of a dojo, complete with rice-paper partitions and brewing tea and virtual sparring partners. Aido was Lee’s martial art of choice, one that he still practiced daily for the discipline it instilled in him. [6] Even against virtual opponents that did not bleed or get tired, Lee made a formidable foe. He spent half an hour working on the stretching exercises that kept his muscles tough and sinewy, agonizing exercises that caused those not trained in the scientific art of aido to double over in pain.

“Kenji!” he barked.

The MEL [7] consulted its internal databases and summoned forth the multi projection known as Kenji. A hulking man in his mid-twenties appeared in the dojo, towering over Lee with a body that seemed to be all bone. Kenji had an almost crestfallen look on his face. Of course, given the taboo against Autonomous Minds and the restrictive AI anti-details [8] in place, the virtual entity could not remember too much. But somewhere in his databases was buried the memory of dozens of crushing defeats at Lee’s hands.

Lee crouched in readiness and waved the virtual projection on.

This Natch is proving to be a problem, he thought.

Every high executive of the Council seemed to have a few signature issues stamped permanently on his or her tenure in office. Len Jabbor [9] had the breakup of OCHRE, Toradicus had the Priority Generations Detail, Par Padron had the reestablishment of elected rule in the Prime Committee. Len Borda had made his mark on the organization with his economic stimulus activities during the Economic Plunge of the 310s. Lee instinctively knew that MultiReal would be his cross to bear when he became high executive.

And just when things seemed under control, this fiefcorp master Natch had stepped in and thrown everything into chaos once more.

Kenji charged.

The virtual sparring partner moved astonishingly quickly for one of his size. He burst across the dojo with a flying kick that could have knocked a man’s head off and left his body still standing.

It was an interesting move, one that the MEL had not tried on him before. Magan Kai Lee almost lost his concentration. But he had done this too many times before. As soon as he saw the trajectory of the muscular fighter, he executed a deft tuck-and-roll that positioned him perfectly to deliver a crippling blow to the leg or groin. In virtual fighting, there was no need for mercy, but Kenji was smart enough to deflect him with a bend of the knee.

With Natch, Magan knew what he had to do: simply keep the situation under control.

Control was everything. The entire MultiReal technology had been under control ever since Len Borda had sat down with Margaret Surina all those years ago, and everything had been moving along inevitably just as Borda had planned since then. And as long as he knew what the variables were, Magan Kai Lee could still control the outcome. Natch was just another variable thrown into the equation. A complicating variable, true — but a predictable one nonetheless, and one that wouldn’t hamper the plans to control MultiReal technology that Borda had set in motion.

Control was the key to aido, too. Like many of the ancestral martial arts from which it was partly derived, aido taught that the most important aspect to solving any problem was to know it intimately.

Kenji had hardly been deflected off course by Lee’s tuck-and-roll. He landed with a tumble of his own, snapped back to his feet, and launched a volley of carefully executed punches at his opponent. The MEL was pulling moves from all over its playbook, hoping to throw Lee’s concentration with a dizzying amount of activity.

Most opponents would have crumpled under the onslaught, if not from the blur of motion then from the MEL’s implacable force of will. But Lee was not just any opponent. He let his unconscious mind take over, ducking and dodging and feinting while he analyzed Kenji’s strategy. Blows arced all around him. And unlike most who used this dojo, Lee had set the MEL to actually hurt him if he made a wrong move. Still he maintained his poise and kept on the defensive.

While Borda still led the Defense and Wellness Council, the strategy for dealing with MultiReal was Borda’s. But Lee would keep a lookout. This new situation with Natch suddenly becoming the owner of the MultiReal technology was a test. A test not only for the brash young entrepreneur, but for Borda. Did he still trust Borda to make the right decisions? Or had the old man lost his touch as he feared, and would be unable to step up to the challenge?

Kenji paused for the briefest of split seconds to change tactics.

Lee made his move.

Without any warning, Magan Kai Lee lashed out with a punch to the solar plexus. Kenji staggered back in pain at the unexpected blow, leaving Lee enough time to whip a knife from his belt and slice the virtual projection open up through the belly. Aido, unlike many of the ancestral martial arts, left no room for mercy.

Kenji collapsed to the ground in another virtual death. Lee formally bowed to the MEL. [10]

He would handle things differently than Borda, when his turn came. If he could wait that long.


The vast compound they stood in did not officially exist. The entire orbital colony on which it was situated was presumed abandoned two dozen years ago and now arcing out lifelessly towards the edge of the solar system. In fact, Len Borda had purchased the abandoned structure from the AstroMine Memecorp in a hush-hush deal that not even the Prime Committee knew about. He had told the concerned keeper of the memecorp that the Defense and Wellness Council would be using it as a staging ground for experimental new bots and generations. He was only partially lying. The bots that traveled to the orbital colony to scour it clean and rebuild its structures from the ground up to Borda’s specifications were experimental. And the generations that hid the colony from any unauthorized SubAether transmissions were supposedly beyond the power of science.

When it was completed, the Defense and Wellness Council Compound (affectionately abbreviated to “D-WeCC” [11] by its inhabitants) was perhaps the most secure intelligence facility ever constructed. Few outside of Borda’s inner circle even knew where they multied to every morning to go to work. Some privately conjectured Luna, others one of the Pacific Islands or the “uninhabitable” sector of the orbital colony Furtoid. Almost no one suspected a hollowed-out asteroid in a geostationary orbit around Earth at some thirty-five thousand kilometers. If they tried to use tracing or positioning generations that were common throughout the Data Sea, they would find the communications routes so tangled as to provide impossible answers. Sabotage from without would be difficult, even if an enemy did manage to locate a facility that was blind even to radar and electromagnetic detection. D-WeCC could withstand nuclear attack and besides, was capable of shifting its own orbit for evasive purposes. Top-secret generations capable of scanning brainwave patterns for violent impulses made sabotage from within equally difficult.

“One day D-WeCC will fall,” a weary Borda told Magan. The two were walking together down D-WeCC’s maze of twisty passages, all alike. [12] They were fresh from a briefing on new security precautions the Council had put into place after the aetherquake.

“Fall? How is that possible?”

“Information moves, Magan,” said Borda. “It does not stay still. Good stewards like Len Jabbor and Par Padron — and I would dare say myself — can sometimes succeed in containing or channeling its movement. For a time, at least.”

Magan Kai Lee nodded, though Borda could tell that his successor did not get the point. That was not unusual. Borda had mixed feelings about turning the safety and security of sixty billion human beings over to a zealot like Lee. He wouldn’t say the man was dull so much as obtuse, sometimes unable to see the bigger picture.

Borda had chosen him as his Number Two primarily for his loyalty to Borda’s goals and his uncanny ability to get things done. Where Magan was concerned, a command given was as good as a command already done. And now that he was growing on in years, Borda had ceded many of the day-to-day activities of leadership to Magan. While Borda retreated, Magan more and more became his eyes and ears and hands in the organization and in the world at large.

But would he know how to set priorities? Could he be taught to see the forest for the trees?

Borda could hardly be said to have an ordinary tenure as the high executive of the Defense and Wellness Council, if such a thing even existed. When he had taken office, his priority had been to contend with the unprecedented dangers of tele technology [13]. He imagined the potential horrors and shuddered. A Primal Christian [14] organization using its own tele device to zap an explosive into the middle of an L-PRACG assembly! Or a self-righteous code attempting to “straighten out” the loose atmosphere of 49th Heaven by tele-ing in a holy army! And that wasn’t even counting the inherent problems of the technology that could cause, say, a man to accidentally tele into a wall or a mountain or on top of another person.

The fool Marcus Surina had refused to listen to reason either. He had been too full of the bullheaded Surina pride to consider the implications. “Tele in every pad [15]!” he had declared. Add in the fact that he was young and handsome and beloved by the Gossip, and you had the makings of anarchy.

Borda often wondered if the “accident” that killed Marcus had been a painful one. [16]

But Marcus’s sudden death had paved the way for a more moderate introduction of tele into society, an introduction that was continuing even to this day. Less strident project leaders had allowed Borda to muscle his agents into both the engineering and detail worlds to cushion the impact of the technology, to make it safe for public consumption. New safeguards were being worked into the technology every day that would lessen the potential for disaster and guard against the prospect of sabotage. Borda considered the extremely low fatality rate of the technology — fewer than a hundred deaths in seventy-five years — as evidence of success.

The public knew little about the Defense and Wellness Council’s involvement in tele technology. They would remember him mostly for his actions during the severe economic recession early in this century.

Economists were still arguing about the causes of the first major system-wide depression in modern history. In theory, the fragmentation of society’s markets and governments was supposed to eliminate that sort of economic volatility. Some called it “carbonization economics”: L-PRACGs and fiefcorps and economic markets would bubble to the surface left and right, last as long as they were useful, and then dissipate, allowing participants to form new bubbles. Risks were high, but opportunity was higher. For every one person treading water or sinking to the depths of the diss in carbonization economics, another three people were riding an economic wave of success.

For some unknown reason, that fell to pieces at the end of last century, nearly fifty years ago. The fiefcorp system that had only recently reached maturity foundered, innovation plummeted, and capitalmen ran and stashed their credits deep in their Vault accounts where they were safe.

Borda had found the Prime Committee and the COL-PRACG [17] useless in the crisis. Both bodies were still smarting from the recent reforms that Par Padron had put into place to curb business’s stranglehold on government. When the young and relatively inexperienced Borda approached them with ideas, they ignored him.

So Borda had acted on his own authority.

He appealed directly to the L-PRACGs to help fund defense research, using the specter of emerging tele technology to scare up credits from the reticent ones. And then he turned around and used those same funds for a massive recruitment effort. The Defense and Wellness Council created large teams of bio/logic generators devoted to the perfection of the human body. Even Borda had to admit that the goals of some of the teams were ridiculous, but as long as it kept bio/logic generators out of the ranks of the diss, he was happy.

Critics screamed that Borda’s actions were not part of the charter of the Defense and Wellness Council, that system economics was better left to the Vault and the Prime Committee. The movement to eradicate centralized government altogether was still active, and its advocates quoted the works of rabid libertarians like Sheldon Surina and Lucco Primo to make their point. There were assassination attempts — failed, of course.

But the massive defense contracting that Borda had sponsored not only propped up a sagging economy, but provided the impetus for new markets. Technology sprouted everywhere from the research teams like wildflowers, bringing investment-shy capitalmen back into the game of seeding new fiefcorps and memecorps. This was a development whose effects were still being felt, but Borda counted it as his other big success as high executive of the Defense and Wellness Council.

“I caused MultiReal,” he mused out loud to Magan Kai Lee. “We would not have to deal with it if it weren’t for me.”

Magan had been off WoolGathring 57.3f. [18] “Borda?” he asked, perplexed.

“The Surina Perfection Memecorp was one of those groups that received massive Council subsidies years ago during the Economic Plunge,” Borda continued. “My doing. The business climate that allows them to sell a technology like MultiReal into the private sector is a direct result of the Council funding. Also my doing. Ergo, I caused MultiReal.”

“Some would consider that a good thing,” said Magan. “You know, Surina’s first maxim, that technology can solve every problem.”

“Yes, Sheldon Surina. The man was a brilliant engineer, but as a political philosopher he was offline.”

They reached Borda’s office — really a MEL with its SeeNaRee set to Ancestral British Navy. Outside of Lee and Borda himself, the room would admit no one, not even Lee’s trusted subordinates like Papizon. The high executive and his number two took seats in large leather chairs with nail-head trim.

“So let us talk strategy, you and I,” said Borda. “MultiReal technology is pubbed to the world and now in private hands. What do we do?”

“To start with, get on the inside of the players. Margaret Surina, the Surina/Natch Fiefcorp, the Patel Brothers.”

“Good. Information is key. You have done this?”

Lee sat pensively for a moment. “Mostly. Preparations are underway for the rest.”

“We can do a more thorough reanalysis when we have more data. Until then — security. Protective generations. Surveillance. Defensive measures. Under no circumstances can MultiReal leave the circle.”

“Understood, and taken care of.”

“I assume you’ve taken a look at the usual suspects?”

Lee nodded and got a far-away look for a moment, as if consulting the analysis of one of his subordinates. “The Primal Christians are at war with each other again. Internal squabbling. I have plenty of details if you’re interested, but I doubt they will be able to muster much of an organized front in acquiring MultiReal. A lot of activity going on at Code Thassel that concerns me. I’m looking into that. The Islanders seem peculiarly quiet, but all I know for sure is that they’re preparing to register a Dogmatic Opposition against MultiReal. I don’t trust that they’ll stay quiet, they already have one of their own — this engineer Quell — on the inside. I’m still in the early stages of analysis.”

Borda idly picked up an antique telescope and put it to his eye. He focused in on a passing cutter that was visible through the porthole. So many competing interests, he thought. I’m getting too old for this. Containing MultiReal is a twenty- or thirty-year project, and I’ll have long left the ranks of the Prepared in an urn by then.

“Okay, so that covers the immediate issues,” said Borda. “But we must make some long-term decisions as well.”

Magan nodded that unreadable nod of his; it seemed half blind obedience, half pandering put-on.

“The Defense and Wellness Council has three options here.

“Option one is to be vigilant and let things run their course. As long as MultiReal stays contained within a small circle, we can keep a handle on developments. Surina/Natch and the Patels are months away from any viable products, and we both know that the real dangers of MultiReal lie down the road with increased computational power. It may behoove the Council to concentrate on crisis analysis and prevention.

“Option two is to pursue legal options to tie up the technology. I am scheduled to meet with the Prime Committee in two days, and I suspect they would be amenable to certain anti-details against the technology. The COL-PRACG may prove more difficult. But I suspect that we have a variety of legal tools that could keep MultiReal tied up in the courts for years — or put any fiefcorp that tries to touch it permanently out of business.

“Option three is the option that I call the Marcus Surina option.”

A gloom descended on the MEL. The SeeNaRee interpreted the mood and set off virtual cannons abovedecks at the passing cutter.

“The safety of humanity is greater than any one person or entity. It is greater than you, it is greater than me. We cannot rule out the possibility that the future of the human race might require us to take drastic steps to eliminate this technology or rein it in.

“Sheldon Surina was wrong, Magan. Humanity has the urge to progress and grow — but so does the virus, so does the parasite. Sometimes we must stand in the way of innovation and empowerment.”



“Yes, Magan?”

“Can you perform an infogather on Marcus Surina’s ‘accident’ for me?”


  1. I always felt very, very strongly that MultiReal should open with some variation on this sentence. Book 1 opens with “Natch was impatient,” book 2 opens with “Len Borda was dying,” and book 3 will open with the sentence “Horvil was rejuvenated.” A strong allusion to the seasonal themes of the trilogy. [Back]
  2. In the earliest versions of Infoquake and MultiReal, creeds were known as “codes.” Which didn’t cause any confusion, because bio/logic programs were called bio/logic “generations” and programming terms were strenuously avoided. That whole scheme was eventually abandoned. [Back]
  3. The Gossip was an early segment of the Data Sea where the drudges hung out. I only have the faintest recollection of what a “cicero” was supposed to be — I guess a public speaker? Neither concept survived long. [Back]
  4. This conversation with Papizon made it largely intact into the final draft, where it’s now part of chapter 5. [Back]
  5. The idea of Magan Kai Lee as a stone-cold killer survived very late into the game. As late as the third complete draft of the novel, the idea that Magan had killed one of his predecessors was still an important background element to the character. (I even managed to sneak a reference to it into Infoquake somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can remember where.) Eventually I decided that Magan works much better in MultiReal as a thoughtful enigma instead of a vicious assassin. [Back]
  6. There was a lot of this martial arts nonsense in the early drafts of MultiReal. Magan was supposed to be a disciple of something called “aido,” which would provide him crucial bits of motivation throughout the book. I eventually tossed all of this stuff aside, because a) The Matrix was rapidly making this kind of thing horribly cliché, b) having the only Asian guy in your book be a martial arts expert seemed like a cheap stereotype, and c) I really didn’t know much about martial arts to begin with. If you’re going to put martial arts in your story, you really should have some intimate knowledge or at least a passionate interest in it. I had neither, so out the door the martial arts went. Instead I tried to defy convention by making Magan somewhat clumsy and ungraceful during his action scenes in the book. [Back]
  7. Multi Event Lounge. Told you there was a lot of dumb jargon in these early drafts. [Back]
  8. Details = an abandoned term for L-PRACG laws. One occurrence of this term actually slipped into the Infoquake trade paperback by accident, but was removed for the mass market. [Back]
  9. Len Jabbor was renamed Tul Jabbor in later drafts, to avoid confusion with Len Borda. [Back]
  10. And thus the character of Magan Kai Lee in draft 1 proves himself to be the perfect antagonist for our hero, Chuck Norris. [Back]
  11. The acronym “D-WeCC” survived until very later in the writing process, until one of my first readers told me that she kept pronouncing the name in her head as “dweck” instead of “dee-weck” as I intended. After that, D-WeCC quickly became DWCR, the Defense and Wellness Council Root. Which caused me to scramble around to change the concept of “root access” for bio/logic programs to “core access.” [Back]
  12. If you recognize the reference here, give yourself a cookie. [Back]
  13. The cutsey term “tele” was later abandoned for the more straightforward “teleportation.” [Back]
  14. The Pharisees were originally known as the Primal Christians. It’s a dumb name, and it has the potential to antagonize a whole class of readers when no antagonism is really intended. (You’ll see in Geosynchron that the Pharisees are really not quite so stupid and backwards as the connectibles seem to think they are in these first two books.) I knew this term had to change early on, but it took me a while to come up with a replacement. [Back]
  15. “Pad” = Personal Adaptable Dwelling. *whimper* Shoot me now, please. [Back]
  16. I knew from a very early point in the writing of Infoquake that Marcus Surina’s death was no accident. But whether to explicitly reveal this to the reader, and when, became something I pondered quite a bit. I gradually came to realize that this wasn’t a point that should be spoonfed to the reader. My hope in the final draft is that, by the time you definitively learn that Surina was murdered — in chapter 4 — most readers will have already figured it out for themselves. [Back]
  17. Early term for Congress of L-PRACGs, later purged. [Back]
  18. I’m really sorry you had to read that idiotic sentence. I’ll try to warn you next time. [Back]