It was a world wherein there was a brain-implant which allowed people to snapshot, transfer and interpret partial mind-states as unaugmented humans use words.

The actual story was about a detective investigating the murder of a poet and and advocate of this technology who was evidently killed (a heart attack triggered by the augmentation releasing adrenaline) through her augmentation.

The murder was perpetrated by an organization who are motivated by what this augmentation does when implanted in children at a young age, and left to affect their development: a little girl of eight is shown being "super-sane" to almost cynical extent, tossing aside patriotism and other conventionally motivating causes, in favour of a form of intellectual enlightenment.

The government is trying to stop the augmentation from becoming popular because of it.

The detective eventually realises, or is convinced, that they are out of their league and leaves the case.

I have lost both author, title and even the name of the augmentation, so Google is proving uncooperative.

ETA: The story was in English, it was available in full text on a static-content web-page, I read it between one and three years ago.

  • Roughly speaking, when did you read this story? Was it in an anthology, magazine, or something else? What language was it in?
    – phantom42
    Jun 25, 2014 at 20:37
  • @phantom42 eta'd Jun 25, 2014 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


The story is TAP by Greg Egan (isfdb, Wikipedia). First published in Asimov's Science Fiction, November 1995.

It is set in a near-future society in which brain implants allow immersive virtual reality. The implants also allow a new kind of language called TAP, Total Affective Protocol. TAP is essentially a way of making qualia into words.

The whole text is available online at ininityplus.co.uk

It is a murder mystery:

Grace Sharp had been dead for a month. [...] The immediate cause of death had been a myocardial infarction, but the autopsy had also shown signs of a powerful adrenaline surge. That could have resulted from the pain and stress of a heart attack already in progress -- or it could have come first, triggered by an unknown external shock.

Or, the Total Affect Protocol chip in her brain might have flooded her body with adrenaline for no good reason at all.

The TAP chip is not allowed for children, officially for fear that it will stunt their brain developement. However, it does the opposite:

"With the implant, you can play words -- or scan them. Experience them, blindly -- or understand them, completely. Uncle Daniel's not a big fan of understanding, though. He thinks there are certain words which should be played and not scanned." [...]

They wouldn't lock up the mother, or institutionalise the daughter. They'd kill this child, if they had to.

  • Thank you very much; I did think it had Greg Egan flavour. Jun 25, 2014 at 22:14

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