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I'll preface this description by saying I don't remember much about this book, so its possible that this detail is merely an annecdote used in the introduction and I'm not capturing the theme or plot whatsoever. The book was written in English and I found/read it in the United States sometime in the late 90s, maybe as late as the early 00s.

The primary thing I remember from it was the interaction the character had with a computer. It was a type of virtual reality, but implemented to extend the experience of desktop computers. The character had some sort of cybernetic implants in their body (I have a mental image of essentially circuit boards implanted under the skin along their arms) that allowed communication between their brain/nervous system and a computer by way of a chair that the user sat in that had sensors in the arms of the chair. The experience of using this computer was essentially of being 'in' the computer. That is to say, the user found themselves standing in a digital world that was like a 3D PC desktop. They described icons that were like objects in this reality that you picked up to activate, rather than clicking on them. I can't recall anything about any of the applications themselves, though.

These might have been shared experiences, in that I vaguely recall there being a female present in this virtual reality that was explaining it, but I'm not confident about that detail as I was very young when I read this and it's been a long time.

The only other detail I can remember is that after the description of this human/computer interface and the character spending some time in the computer, I have a vague image of military hummers approaching the house, as if the character was being raided by the government or something like that. This part is very fuzzy and vague, but I've read that no detail should be left out in these posts, so there you go.

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  • You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Apr 30, 2020 at 21:04
  • I've added everything I can think of from those lists, unfortunately. I was a young child 20+ years ago and I don't think I read much of the book. Thanks for the pointers, though. I added a very vague detail that is all I have left to offer.
    – ffollett
    Apr 30, 2020 at 21:14
  • My advice is to revisit your recollections periodically. No detail is too small or too obvious for it to be useful. I'm assuming, for example, that the book was written in English
    – Valorum
    Apr 30, 2020 at 21:32
  • Yes, book was written in English, and read in the USA.
    – ffollett
    Apr 30, 2020 at 22:15
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    Did the book contain any overtly erotic content? Or explicitly described violence?
    – Valorum
    Apr 30, 2020 at 22:17

1 Answer 1

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It's a bit of a long shot, but it has occurred to me that this could just possibly be the novella "True Names" by Vernor Vinge.

The protagonist, Mr. Slippery, is a skilled hacker ("warlock") and part of an elite group of warlocks who call themselves the Coven. They use some kind of neural induction device to enter the computer realm; this was one of the first descriptions of what would become a standard cyberpunk VR trope.

When he first jacks in he enters a virtual environment similar to his office. There is some description about how things depicted in the virtual environment were analogies for objects in the real world and that you could act on them through the analogy. (For example, if a database were represented by a pool, then you could run a search on the database by running your hand through the pool.)

The story has a raid by the federal Department of Welfare:

The first hint Mr. Slippery had that his own True Name might be known--and, for that matter, known to the Great Enemy-came with the appearance of two black Lincolns humming up the long dirt driveway that stretched through the dripping pine forest down to Road 29.

(The "Great Enemy" is the U.S. Government.)

The female would then be his fellow warlock Erythrina, and yes, the government did attempt to send the army after him when he and Erythrina took over all the computers to fight DON.MAC/Mailman. There is a mention of him using a fragment of his attention to divert the military forces trying to reach him.

The biggest difference with your recollection is the method of interface; in "True Names" the induction interface is at the back of the neck.

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  • This seems like a really promising lead. The term 'warlock' and the snippet you quoted both feel quite familiar. I'll try to get hold of a copy to see if this might be it.
    – ffollett
    Sep 23, 2020 at 16:05

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