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Plot Summary Details

I'm a bit fuzzy on this one, but as best as I can remember, the story opens with a municipal commuting system software malfunctioning and causing a huge traffic snarl. Not sure if it is a subway system or the like. The protagonist, whom I believe is one of the system's programmers, jacks in to fix the glitch. The name of the program/system escapes me, but I think it was a woman's name or similar to that.

When the programmer jacks in, he encounters a variety of landscapes. I think he enters an old west town, and talks to a piano player in a saloon. There is a female character, who is the avatar personification of the program. Through a variety of encounters, it becomes clear the program is in love with him, and deliberately created the traffic snarl to get him to come into her "world" to meet her "face to face." She also makes it clear that she wants to come out and be with him in the real world.

I am very fuzzy on the ending to the story. I remember it being possibly a little open-ended. The traffic snarl is resolved and the program is running again. The protagonist, as he is leaving, meets (I think) a young woman. This young woman (again, I think) is supposed to be the program's consciousness. In effect, they found a way to bring her into the real world, and we have a happy ending. I think.

Publication Details

I'm certain I read this one in a sci-fi magazine of some sort. I believe it to be 2000 or later, though the premise (a computer falling in love with her programmer) goes back to the original Twilight Zone, if not earlier.

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    Roger Zelazny wrote several short stories with virtual reality. – sueelleker Aug 24 '17 at 10:17

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