Veyron gave me a story late Sunday night, Eudeamon, it's available for free from the author at that link. It's over 75,000 words long, but I read the entire thing in one sitting and stayed up far too late. The story is very well written and I highly recommend it to anyone. It made me laugh and cry, but most of all, it made me think. In other words, an excellent book.
In the story, a reporter investigates a new method of criminal punishment being used, Banishment. Exclusion from society is an old form of punishment, but this had a new twist, the criminal was placed in a special suit that prevented all forms of contact and interaction with others, an AI in the suit monitored the criminal and punished them if they violated the rules, then, the criminal was allowed to roam free wearing the suit. Isolated from society, but forced to be amongst it, the criminals, called a Bane while in the suit, were able to watch others enjoy their lives and yet be unable to participate. When their sentence was over, they were released. Nearly no criminal relapsed.
A very spooky kind of punishment. The reporter was trying to find out if it was inhuman. Were the makers of the suit subjecting the criminals to permanent mental and emotional harm? The program was only a few years old, so little was known of the long-term effects. She wanted to find out. The only problem, no one, not the makers, the city council, the police, not even the ex-Banes themselves would talk about it. She kept trying to interact with the Banes themselves, but they were unable to communicate with her and usually ran away since they were punished if they tried to interact.
Then, she discovered two things that drove the rest of the story of the book and made all the difference. First, some of the Banes who had been in the suits the longest, for more than a year, were beginning to commit petty crimes, lengthening their punishment and requiring them to stay in the suit longer. Second, in a park, in the middle of the night, one of the Banes communicated with her, writing a few words in the mud with a stick, replying to her questions about why it didn't want to be let out of the suit.
She cleared the silt and wrote slowly and carefully. You cannot understand. Only bane understand. Beauty beyond words. My perfect Eden. She stopped writing for a moment to hug herself again. Pleasure you’ll never know. Love you’ll never know. She underlined ‘love’ several times.
The story is good with action, excitement, humor, romance, and drama. A good plot, solid characterization, and numerous twists, turns, and surprises to keep you interested.
Now, if you've stuck with me this long, you're probably wondering what this has to do with Second Life. A few people have made their own Bane suits and one person has set up a Banishment program in Second Life, trying to replicate the book as well as possible. The suits in the story, made of a black latex like substance, along with the isolation appeal to certain types of subs and they have tried to duplicate the experience in Second Life. A few who have tried it, not knowing how it would affect them, have written about their Bane experiences.
As for me, while I'm curious, I'm more curious about how much of the experience of the book they have been able to replicate. I naturally isolate myself enough on my own and I don't want to make it more complete by doing the Banishment program for a week or more. Part of what I like about quiet and solitude is being able to watch the world, and I don't think SL has enough depth and detail to keep me from being bored.