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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Okay so let's start with a general overview of the story and a plot summary. First things first the setting is fairly basic for cyberpunk earth side. Everything is unbelievably polluted and for the most part humanity hole up in various towers across the earth that hold millions of people each. Companies pretty much own people and it's generally a rather ruthless place where the poor often die in dangerous working conditions. However it's not uncommon for some to wish to improve their circumstances by taking various mercenary jobs. These people are often referred to as street samurai and are usually enhanced compared to the normal person. With that set up we can get into the game. Off in far flung planets various alien races exist and they long ago decided to solve their differences through an immersive game like simulation that they enter when they sleep. Now normally that wouldn't interest earth too much due to the aliens blockading use off until we stop being backstabbing pricks. What does matter is that a portion of your in game strength is transferred to the real world. Humans are given the game as a type of training wheel to real trade with the aliens and of course the corporations quickly monopolize it. Enter our main character Kat. Kat gets her hands on a subscription. Now that I've set up the basic premise I'm going to be a fair bit vague to not spoil the actual story.
Style:the style of the story is pretty bog standard 3rd person omniscient perspective, no glaring issues
Story:I was pleasantly surprised with the story of Tower of Somnus, or ToL as I will refer to it from now on. As I was saying ToL sports solid world building with good pacing that never leaves you skimming for the good part to start. It does a good job of balancing real world and game issues and due to the cyberpunk nature of the real world you won't be left wanting for action there either.
grammar score:I've spotted maybe 3 errors reading the entire story, unless you're an English major with a stick I think you won't find anything immersion breaking
Characters:I think one of my favorite parts about ToL are the characters. Every character feels grounded and realistic as far as the end product of their experiences. Corporate trust fund babies are sheltered from the plight of the common folk literary below them, Aliens treat human culture with a detached interest, and our MC is a good example on how you can make a rational character that can make tough choices without being a sociopath, somthing too many fictions struggle with. The villains are largely one dimensional but they suit the story fine. Most importantly the characters can actually make you have a bit of emotional investment, which lets face it is rare when we're talking about RR. A lot of litRPGs are read to watch the number get bigger and that's completely fine. However this isn't one of those fictions
A great story, at least after Arnold is out of the way. He was just too annoying to enjoy much of the first 10 chapters or so.
I wish the power scaling was a bit faster, though that is probably just personal preference.
Still, this is a very compelling, well written story.
well described and realistic characters, a well-written story with a fluid storyline, a surprisingly good mix of liteRPG elements and interstellar futuristic themes with a little dystopia here and there best of all there is none of the harems or childish sexually disturbing content from virginal, sex-driven, girlfriend-less, teenage (i can only hope) authors .. .. great read, can't wait for more chapters.
Unique female mc with a they 3rd gender side character. The 3rd gender character being constantly referred to as they pissed me of because I'm thinking of 2 or more people with they but it's one.
Also a lot of group battles which makes following whats going on difficult especially with the use of "they" vocab.
I ended up just skipping those group fights. Over all its great. Mc has 3 lives. 1 as a normal girl (protect secret identity) 1 as a runner (real life super power fights). 1 as a player in virtual reality (vr fights)
Tower of Somnus brings a lot to the table. Kat is a great character, with relatable drives, competent enough to enjoy watching her be a badass, but with enough room to grow that you can feel her getting a little stronger with each chapter. The story is fascinating, both in the Tower and out in the real world, each one bringing something fun and interesting to the table. The corporate hellscape that is Earth is portrayed wonderfully and is especially chilling for how real certain parts are. We're not there yet, far from it, but the resemblance is uncanny, a funhouse mirror of our future that we're only a few slippery slopes from becoming. And the Tower, where she is constantly fighting monsters to survive, is ironically enough her only respite from the politics and deadly intrigue of her real life. I love a lot of the characters here - Kat herself and her team are fun to watch.
The author does a get job of teasing out the wider world when it's needed, so you're never caught up in longwinded worldbuilding. Rather, the societies of corporate hellscape Earth and the internal conflicts and culture of the wider galaxy are both developed through fascinating tidbits, hinting at wilder secrets we don't yet have the answers to.
I know I'm going to get flak for this but I had to write a review purely to get this out. First of all amazing story, well written and unique. I truly enjoy reading it and eagerly wait for more. Not much more I can praise it that the other reviews didn't cover. So here are my critiques.
Characters: Main character is excellent, highly enjoy, just a bit confused why she's cool with
Killing off "innocent" people without a second thought.
But worries about what pronouns aliens prefer enough to ask? We find out the alien prefers they/them pronouns until they mature into a male. Not only is this a bit too politically correct and woke for my tastes but it makes reading through certain parts confusing, clunky and awkward. It's not that I'm against anyone for whatever sexuality, I just think anything, literally anything, would have been better than they/them. They're aliens, why not use xey/xem or xe/xer? This would make entire paragraphs a whole lot smoother. For this sole reason alone I had to take away 1 star because it made reading it that much harder for me. If not for that it would have gotten 5 stars round the board. Oh also a bit more character depth into everyone else would be nice too.
Tower of Somnus is a story where aliens visit earth, and instead of the evil and dominating force in power, they are usually made to be. These folks were pretty decent people. It is humanity that has its flaws pointed out to them.
This is a cyberpunk VRMMO advanced story in a world mired in a corrupt, dystopian society of the future that is highly elitist and capitalistic in nature. It is a show of how the bad aspects of our world can be taken to the extreme and presented as a contrast to the honorable and varying species. Of course, nothing is quite that simple but Tower of Somnus goes on to highlight humanity's flaws as for the first time there are other societies to compare against. It is the flaws and the infighting that has held humanity back and it is a marvelous read and a very unique one too.
The story follows Katherine, otherwise known as Kat, on her journey as she works hard to escape corporate debt and move ahead for a better life in a society where many others are content to go deeper and deeper into debt, living in the confines that society makes them believe to be a fact of life. It is in some ways a painful read, as it glaringly highlights things that happen in real life.
Katherine is a young girl, working as a street running moving around stuff for extra money, and working hard for a good position and job, despite the various drawbacks and clear discrimination. The world here has lost all pretense of civility as the people in power have gotten an iron-clad grip on society. In such circumstances, her mother worked hard to support two children and it fell on Katherine's shoulders to work for a better life for them.
Here is the hook of the story. Tower of Somnus, a game that let's you use weaker versions of its abilities in the real world. Becoming a player is a life-changing matter and a way to reach unseen heights. The story starts with her struggle with people, discrimination, and circumstances as she goes on life-threatening runs sometimes. Having to kill to survive, but things change when she gets a method to be a player.
ToS is a tower full of possibilities with unseen heights and it is here where another unique aspect of the story. The Tower is a story device for the real world. The real world and the real world implications were what pulled me to the story. It had, from the start, been a story about the real world and how it changed with the presence of this game. I've seen this point repeated a lot of times, and for good reason. The story mixes gameplay combat, levels, experiences, teams, politics, all of it with real-life stakes. Similar stuff has been tried in SAO (anime) by giving real-life death as a stake raiser, but, ToS is perhaps the best rendition of this where the game world is just a prop, and it is the real world that interacts with the game where the real story lies.
I enjoyed the characters quite a lot in Somnus, not just Katherine but Dorrik and the others too. The main character did have to pull a bit for them as sometimes the side characters could feel a bit flat, but with the sheer quantity that Somnus put out in chapters and the entertainment value along with great interactions and development of characters, I can easily look a few side characters not being ground-breakingly amazing.
The setting and the corrupt nature of society could also seem a bit exaggerated, instead of having shades of grey, or so I thought at the start but after having read till the end there are plenty of shades of grey shown marvelously in the story. It's just that greys are darker than most.
The small details and world-building were other aspects I really enjoyed in ToS are the street samurai, chrome body modification street fight aspect of the story. In fact, I enjoyed that aspect a lot more than the litRPG game world. The interactions with Xander and the creative details of disposing of bodies, the Chrome Cowboys. All of it made the world feel extremely engaging and satisfying to read.
The way the story has stuck to its root themes and has presented an exciting story in a unique setting makes me an amazing book already even if I forget for a moment that this 110k word long story was all written in a single month.
Overall a great read, and a 5 star from me.
Quite a nice read! It sucked me in and never let go. I had no trouble binging this down. The only real complaint is that it reached the end of Book 1.
Grammar - There is a minor issue with some of the early chapters, about the first eight or ten. A few instances of sentences being reworded with both the old and the new wording remaining. Otherwise, mostly clean.
Character - The MC is fully fleshed out. Her party mates are fairly well detailed. The other characters, you don't feel the lack of detail. The characters' interactions are detailed and the dialog naturally flows. The villains are maybe a bit stereotypically evil, but the interactions with them are mostly fun.
The Story - A fairly familiar cyberpunk zaibatsu dystopia. But, handled well enough to not feel stale. The game world feels a little bland in comparison. The detail feels a little lacking of the game and its world, however, the real world and the game's effect on it is the point more so than the game itself. A bit more description would serve the story well.
I am eagerly awaiting Book 2 and at least a dozen beyond that
The story is set in a corporate dystopia with a VRMMO added. The premise is that aliens came to Earth to invite humanity into a galactic federation, but were so disappointed by humans they instead left and put an embargo on Earth. Before they left, they gave humanity limited subscriptions into The Tower of Somnus, a VRMMO that would allow for them to improve themselves and interact with other aliens.
The MC is a "runner" which basically entails delivering packages while running away from the cops or gangs. She manages to get a subscription into the Tower of Somnus and is one of the few people who actually meets aliens (mainly because subscriptions are hoarded by the rich who build their own team so they don't have to share), and joins an alien team to climb the Tower. She isn't OP and has to work with limited resources to survive. If she does better than other people, it's largely because she trains hard and gets advice from her alien teammates, who know about the Tower and can giver her advice other people aren't privy to.
The worldbuilding is decent. It's split between cyberpunk (the corporate dystopia the MC lives in) and a more fantasy-ish world of the Tower. Neither are especially unique, but they're consistent and they do feel real enough and lived-in. The alien races are pretty well described, but since we only see them in the game it's a bit limited on what we learn about them.
The writing style is pretty good. I've notice a few grammatical mistakes, but they're fairly rare and nothing major.
If you interested in a story that mixes sci-fi and cyberpunk with fantasy and RPG mechanics, I'd recommend giving this a shot.
The story is facinating and the MC is the right amount of moraly grey for her upbringing in this dystopia. The world is done so well with the coperate overlords and for some reason the entire alien vr just flows really well. I have enjoyed binging to catchup and will eagerly await more chapters