Tower of Somnus
When humanity first encountered alien life, we were judged and found wanting.
The Galactic Consensus interviewed our leaders and subjected us to a battery of psychological tests to determine our progress as a society. They found us to be selfish, wasteful, impulsive, and boorish neighbors. Earth was blockaded and our collective encounter with our extrasolar neighbors rapidly faded from memory.
All they left behind was a hypercomm relay and a handful of subscriptions to a massively multiplayer game that participants played in their sleep. The Consensus said that it would let us interact with our neighbors in a controlled setting. That it would teach us to be better members of the galactic community.
The megacorporations that controlled Earth ignored the game until they learned that the powers earned from clearing dungeons were just as real when day broke. Magic, supernatural abilities and rumors exploded from nothing and a subscription to The Tower of Somnus became a status symbol.
Katherine ‘Kat’ Debs doesn’t have much, but it could be worse. Born in an arcology, she was assigned a job in the megacorporation that raised her almost as soon as she could work. Despite the stability of her corporate life, she wanted something more. A chance to claw her way up the rigid social and financial ladder to make something of herself.
A chance that wouldn’t come naturally to someone as familiar with dark alleyways and the glint of steel as she was with office work and corporate niceties.
Cover art by Faewild
Coloring/shading by KrazeKode
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Book One was a National Novel Writing Month/Writeathon entry. Book one has zero editing or proofreading.
As a warning, this WILL eventually go to Kindle Unlimited (meaning each book will come down shortly before I publish it).
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One of the best LitRPGs I've read. The author really does an excellent job at contrasting the powers in game vs. real life. The description of the story really over exagerates the effect of powers carried over from in game. At east at low levels. It's definitely useful, but it isn't a game breaker in RL.
I won't spread spoilers, but I was deeply dissapointed that I ran into the end of the most recent posts. I can't wait for updates.
One of the few stories I've seen that handle's multiple worlds well. Shockingly, both the cyberpunk dystopia real world and the eponymous Tower of Somnus world are consistent and engaging. Even more impressively, both stories feed into each other. Events in the real world feed into and create challenges in the Tower of Somnus. Events in the Tower of Somnus drive character growth and relationship changes that have an impact on how things play out in the real world. Both worlds provide skills and powers that are useful in the other. This is almost never done decently but here is pulled off magnificently.
The author does a good job of conveying just how awful of a dystopia the real world is, without turning the story into a downer. Instead, the story is action-packed and impressively upbeat. Terrible things happend and monstrous people are met, but the MC never gives up and keeps working the angles. The MC is allowed to drive the action despite often being pushed and pulled by forces greater than herself.
I don't want to spoil anything, but I really love the stories central conceit. It hits all the right notes and merges with the cyberpunk genre incredibly well.
A really good story.
The style is serviceable and transparent. I never got distracted by a weird turn of phrase but neither did I get blown away by some delightful crunchy specificity. It works and the story does not call for more. The screens are not abundant but they can be a bit hard to read. I'd suggest thicker lines dividing personal info, HP and Mana, attributes, skills and abilities. Nothing too confusing and the screens don't appear often nor are they necessary to understand the story. This is not a mim maxing power fantasy,
Grammar is flawless. Some typos are to be expected but they are not so abundant as to be distracting. It is an excellent effort, specially as part of Nanowrimo.
The overall story is an achievement in story telling. I'll divide this innto worldbuilding and plot.
The worldbuilding serves as the hook, portraying a futuristic oligarchic dystopia that rings true. Most humans are born in debt to a company, expenses provided by a line of credit. Few hope to break free of their debt and live in indentured servitude to the enterprise. It is simple. And it is not that much different to how some of the lower class of today's world are forced to rely on credit card debt. A scary and smart prediction on a possible future for humanity. The aliens, the towers and the superpowers might make it impossible for this to be future mandatory reading, but the scary dystopia provides a message no less important than the works of Orwell.
The plot hooks into this world from an oblique angle. Other authors attempt to milk the dystopia for sympathy points. Centering the story around people struggling with illness or living a few steps below the poverty line. This story avoids it. Our protagonist's family is low middle class. The protagonist has enough spending money to live a somewhat normal life. The lives of the people we see in the company are not much different than the lives of most of the readers. They work their mandated work hours and rest when they are over. And this works better as a scathing critic of our current society. It is a reframing that keeps our current lifestyle more or less intact while making the analogy to slavery more apparent.
Once again running obliquely to expectations, the story is not a drab melancholic journey against economic angst. Instead we follow Kat, an overachieving student, classic type A personality and a bit of an adrenaline junkey. Rather than live her life in debt, she dreams of paying of her debt. She makes plans to get enough money to move fast through the corporate ladder and perhaps, one day enter the lottery to become a Player, one of the few with access to the titular Tower of Sonambulus, a game provided by an alien civilization. Powers earned in this game translate into the real world, making the players respected members of society. To acquire funds, our protagonist chooses to enter the slums of the corporate city and become a runner, the technically illegal profession of transporting information between different floors of the corporate megalopolis. While ostensibly not too dangerous, this job leads to a rich friend granting her access to the game with a promise of carrying him through the early floors.
Thus starts a tale of intrigue and mystery as jobs start going wrong during the day and Kat's interpersonal relationships get tested during the night. As her skills granted by the game upgrade her abilities to run her extralegal activities, the stakes constantly rise in her daily life. The solutions to the unfolding mystery perfectly pull at each plot thread, making for an extremely satisfying conclusion which I would not dare spoil. This while leaving more than enough interest for the sequel, which is already being published!
The characters are real and well fleshed out. Kat's character evolves as she grows through romantic crushes and multiple life threatening dangers. The contrast between the safe but oppressive corporate work she's required to do with the life threatening circumstances of her second job and her life in the game slowly reveal hidden depths to her character as Kat learns about her own motivations and desires. The secondary cast is equally fleshed out. Discussing the cast without spoilers would be hard, but the characters feel real and their age feels real. The older characters prove much more competent than the younger portion of the cast. The young adults are not dumb, but they are impulsive and emotional as befits their age, yet these irrational decisions never drag on for enough time to be annoying and quickly reach satisfying conclusions.
I understand I barely mentioned the in-game portion, and this might scare off some lovers of the genre, but trust me: the tower is great, the system is simple but exciting and it is always relevant to the plot. However, the meat of the story is in the characters and relations and the relationships and plots related solely to the tower are still open. The Alien Confederation is built to pay off in a later date, and this book more than merits trust that such payoff will be satisfying.
Overall, this was a surprisingly enjoyable read and I recommend it to everyone!
Definitely one of my new favorites!
Tower of Somnus blends the LitRPG fantasy themed dungeon crawling monster slaying goodness we all know and love with the long underappreciated Cyberpunk.
By changing up pacing and plot between the two worlds there's never a lull, with every chapter advancing the plot or the characterization or the worldbuilding without spinning into the bizarre or confusing as sometimes occurs when limited to one story.
This two in one approach works perfectly IMO and showcases the author's creativity.
Looking forward to a Book Two
I had honestly expected a traditional tower type storyline, however this premise is original and well thought out. The story moves along, and there is not a lot of clutter from side themes, and side characters. Well thought out and well written. Not to mention that the story is top notch. I have read other works by CoCop - and this is a good one. Thanks for your time writing it!
I really enjoyed the premise of the character even if it was a bit of a cookie cutter from capable young female leads. - she is about to do something that will boost her slightly out of the obscure masses and gets an opportunity that changes her future and gives her specal status both in game and out (Yes I'm looking at you Stork Tower) - but there is a concrete ecosystem within the Tower that makes enough sense from what we've seen from the perspective from the bottom of the totem pole and the action within is logical and keeps progressing. On the outside is a typical coorporate takeover where the MC dose some not exactly legal, but accepted work for credits on the side.
That said, her interactions with both settings are flawlessly done and all the characters in the story take paths forward that I find believable.
This is the best shadowrun-style story I've seen on RR.
Well written, well paced, and feels very much like the shadowrun universe. As in, the Gibsonesque corporate-monsters with no ethics, a stratum of civilized folks, and a very dark underbelly of moderately illegal street samurai and deckers.
The shadowrun magic is light. As a fellow author, I'd been thinking of how to do a good shadowrun style world for several months, and ... well ... this is it.
Hats off to CoCop
Just binged the story and while I enjoy your dystopian setting the character has become rather stale with her lack of character growth. It is almost like she never changed from the hardworking anxiety stricken harsh vapid girl she was in the beginning to her motivated self at the end there was simply no conflict that wasn't handled without consequences to her friends or family or sidelining and murdering characters. There is no emotional tugging for your setting beyond ignored Community without any friends the girl doesn't even have a social life where's the Angst in a character making overpowered imaginative actions.
Hope you can take something from my rant in your future plot and thank you for writing.
honestly this is just great charkters have emotions using word like getting louder so its clear how they feel and how a gamewordl also give them power in reallife is somthing i like it often feel so anticlimatick in many game world they strong in game but still usles ehrn not in it thank you author for creating somthing great
I love the story, I like the genre. The chance to enter into such a scenario would be simply awesome. To me it is a dream come true, to be able to live this dream, this ideal would almost be Heaven. I simply praise the Writer and wish for more.