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PsyBot: A Novel of Virtual Reality


PsyBot is every programmer’s nightmare: the bug that shows up on the user side of the interface. In this psychological thriller set in the cyberpunk era, Joe Norton’s all-too-ordinary life in Vancouver is coming apart at the seams. Given instructions to kill and a baffling menu of choices, Norton must navigate his way back to sanity. Is the only way out, to go further in? Never mind that one shaky relationship gives way to another, or that his job is jeopardized by a corporate buyout. Norton has a wider mission to complete, as he discovers that Virtual Reality is not confined to hardware.

PsyBot is a literate technothriller, both gritty and poetic, about Virtual reality and the consequences of choice. Blending psychological suspense and magic realism with sci-fi themes of alternate timelines, artificial intelligence, mind control, corporate conspiracy, and astral projection, this noir nod to cyberpunk traces the quest of Joe Norton for survival, sanity, and love.

The middlebrow hero of this offbeat, surrealistic narrative rides a bizarre cybernetic mind-bender, a hacked program set to unleash on an unsuspecting world. Set in Vancouver, BC in 1992 when high-tech was set for takeoff–PsyBot is both speculative technothriller and character study. Its themes comprise personal growth and corporate machination; its prose conveys both gritty description and eloquent quest. The use of genre elements—alien abduction, offworld travel, astral projection—is effectively ironic, introduced by the rogue computer virus to tempt and tease, to call into question the arbitrary fabric of every virtual reality we yearn for or claim to inhabit.

This literate cross-genre novel recalls the intelligent science fiction of Michael Crichton, Stanislav Lem (Solaris), Neal Stephenson, William Gibson and Philip K. Dick – or the popular films Inception, The Matrix, Minority Report, Source Code, Total Recall and The Adjustment Bureau. Elements of the novel also recall the literature of Vonnegut, Borges, Eco, and Jan Potocki. PsyBot’s early ‘90s Vancouver stands as the prequel to a cyberpunk world, society at large unaffected… yet.

“Surreal, bizarre… fascinating, three-dimensional characters.” “Beautiful, unique prose, blurring genre and literary fiction”… exploring the limits of free will, personal transformation and the “very nature of reality in this post-digital age.”


5.0 out of 5 starsA Creative and Spectacular Flight of the Imagination!, December 15, 2016

PsyBot: A Novel of Virtual Reality is a well crafted sci-fi thriller. And I would imagine that fans of the Science Fiction & Fantasy genre will love sinking their teeth into this one! This is my first time reading this author and I must say I was very impressed.

The story had every element a good story should have. An exciting plot, attention to detail, but best of all fleshed out, well-written and well-rounded character development. There’s an abundance of well illustrated scenes that really make you feel like you are right there in the story, and that’s something I really look for in a good book. ‘It’s both gritty and poetic, about virtual reality and the consequences of choice. Blending psychological suspense and magic realism with sci-fi themes of alternate timelines, artificial intelligence, mind control, corporate conspiracy, and astral projection, this noir nod to cyberpunk traces the quest of protagonist, Joe Norton, for survival, sanity, and love.’

This captivating and commendable work had me immersed from the beginning. The story flows from scene to scene with ease (for the most part), and the author shows exceptional skill when it comes to storytelling. There are twists and turns in this page turner that will take the reader on a gripping journey!

It’s one of those stories that come along once in awhile that makes you want to read it non-stop until you get to the end. I’m giving nothing further away here. And this, I hope, will only add to the mystery and enjoyment for the reader!

Author Nowick Gray writes in a variety of genres, teasing the dynamics of choice among multiple realities: romantic relationships, plot endings, murder suspects, virtual worlds, alternate timelines, narrative loops, and stylistic colorings.

His mystery of the Canadian Arctic, Hunter’s Daughter, was published in 2015 by Five Rivers. Other books include Rendezvous, an wilderness adventure tale with a paranormal twist; PsyBot, a novel of virtual reality and My Country: Essays and Stories from the Edge of Wilderness. Since 1976 Nowick’s short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in a wide variety of periodicals and anthologies, in print and online.

Educated at Dartmouth College and the University of Victoria, he taught in Inuit villages in the Arctic before carving out a homestead in the British Columbia Mountains. In more recent years he calls Victoria home, while wintering in tropical locations.

I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading more from Nowick Gray in the future! I would definitely recommend this book! Five stars from me.



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PsyBot: A Novel of Virtual Reality


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