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Terms of Life by Ayami Tyndall

 

Ethan always dreamed of visiting the real world. Too bad not everyone wants him to.

A terminal infant converted to living code, Ethan exists as sentient software. The world is closed to him, glimpsed only through the Internet, until now. Miraculously granted passage into the Flesh, Ethan experiences life’s sensations for the first time, but access is costly. As he becomes unable to pay for time in his body, Ethan will be driven to do anything to escape his digital purgatory, but his desperate actions may come to haunt him.

His life has just begun. Now he is about to lose it.



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Editorial Reviews

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Editor’s First Impression

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Nov 12, 2013: Imagine being a digital mind experiencing real sensation for the first time, but your data allocation is limited! Beautifully written. The ending seems rather abrupt, and leaves some questions unanswered. Nevertheless, Ayami Tyndall once again proves herself a master of cyberpunk, and this novella is well worth reading.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Fast-paced, yet philosophical, cyberpunk

By KC Shi, member

Aug 25, 2013: The first thing I noticed was the strength of the prose: the first passages have an almost lyrical quality without being muddled or ostentatious, and passages thereafter continue to have the same poetic tone. Terms of Life has an equally sophisticated premise: the "daeman" Ethan, who has lived his whole life as a digital construct, is given a second chance to enter the Flesh, or the real world. Things quickly take a turn for the worse for Ethan, as he struggles to keep the life he’s dreamed about for so long.

At the story’s core is Ethan, and his desire to be part of the real world. His conflict with what being real actually means is what drives the story, and I’m eager to see how the author will resolve it. The supporting cast of characters is well-developed, although somewhat lackluster, if only because the readers spends so much less time with them. At times the pacing feels somewhat condensed: events move at the speed of a novella and there’s little to time catch your breath as Ethan jumps from experience to experience. I found it slightly jarring, but in the end it’s a matter of personal taste.

It’s not quite as long as the sprawling epics of web fiction usually listed, but it doesn’t have to be. I heartily recommend this story for anyone who enjoys philosophical or cyberpunk fiction, and will be following Terms of Life as it wraps up this September.

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