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Are you living in a simulation? If you aren’t now, you soon will be. The technology is fast approaching, and within our lifetimes the vast majority of humanity may be plugged into their own private worlds, living out dreams indistinguishable from reality. It sounds like a paradise. But even paradise has its price. Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories ab Are you living in a simulation? If you aren’t now, you soon will be. The technology is fast approaching, and within our lifetimes the vast majority of humanity may be plugged into their own private worlds, living out dreams indistinguishable from reality. It sounds like a paradise. But even paradise has its price. Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories about lives lived inside and outside of virtual reality. The advent of simulated realities raises questions of philosophy and technology that drive at the core of our nature as humans—and in the tradition of classic sci-fi, the stories in this collection wrestle with these questions and with the shape of things to come. You’ll meet a child protective services agent tasked with rescuing children being raised by Neo-Nazis in an illegal simulation of their own darkest fantasies. You’ll meet a man who discovers the cheat code to our reality—and watch as it all goes horribly wrong. You’ll go on a futuristic Rumspringa with an Amish woman who lives it up in virtual reality for a few years before deciding whether to go home to the last unplugged community on Earth. You'll peek into the lives of virtual reality addicts, aliens, and mad billionaires. And you’ll journey into Sim-Sing, a simulated prison with a very unpleasant jailer. Whether you’re a fan of classic sci-fi or not, if you’ve ever wondered whether the things around you are real, whether The Matrix was just a movie, and where the line is between reality and fantasy, you’ll love this glimpse into a future that may yet come—and that may already be here. Author Kevin Kneupper is an attorney and writer of various books, screenplays, and webcomics, including the bestselling They Who Fell series and Argonauts.


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Are you living in a simulation? If you aren’t now, you soon will be. The technology is fast approaching, and within our lifetimes the vast majority of humanity may be plugged into their own private worlds, living out dreams indistinguishable from reality. It sounds like a paradise. But even paradise has its price. Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories ab Are you living in a simulation? If you aren’t now, you soon will be. The technology is fast approaching, and within our lifetimes the vast majority of humanity may be plugged into their own private worlds, living out dreams indistinguishable from reality. It sounds like a paradise. But even paradise has its price. Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories about lives lived inside and outside of virtual reality. The advent of simulated realities raises questions of philosophy and technology that drive at the core of our nature as humans—and in the tradition of classic sci-fi, the stories in this collection wrestle with these questions and with the shape of things to come. You’ll meet a child protective services agent tasked with rescuing children being raised by Neo-Nazis in an illegal simulation of their own darkest fantasies. You’ll meet a man who discovers the cheat code to our reality—and watch as it all goes horribly wrong. You’ll go on a futuristic Rumspringa with an Amish woman who lives it up in virtual reality for a few years before deciding whether to go home to the last unplugged community on Earth. You'll peek into the lives of virtual reality addicts, aliens, and mad billionaires. And you’ll journey into Sim-Sing, a simulated prison with a very unpleasant jailer. Whether you’re a fan of classic sci-fi or not, if you’ve ever wondered whether the things around you are real, whether The Matrix was just a movie, and where the line is between reality and fantasy, you’ll love this glimpse into a future that may yet come—and that may already be here. Author Kevin Kneupper is an attorney and writer of various books, screenplays, and webcomics, including the bestselling They Who Fell series and Argonauts.

30 review for Restricted Fantasies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zoeytron

    Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review. Eleven short stories, each nested within the idea of simulated reality.  The notion is that the present is the only reality, that memories can be flawed, and that the future is but a dream.  How is it possible to determine the difference between dreams, fantasies, illusions, and virtual reality?  Wishes on a rampage, mass hallucination, facades, the body sleeps while the mind is at play.  Standout for me was Smartest Guy in the Room.

  2. 5 out of 5

    WarpDrive

    A fantastic, brilliant collection of short stories about simulated worlds and virtual reality, written by an original and highly gifted author. The author has a gift for incisive, impressionistic world-building, masterfully achieved with quick narrative brush strokes: every short story in the collection explores, with originality and incisiveness, a particular angle of this interesting theme. The line between fantasy and reality, actual life and virtual reality, is masterfully and tantalizingly b A fantastic, brilliant collection of short stories about simulated worlds and virtual reality, written by an original and highly gifted author. The author has a gift for incisive, impressionistic world-building, masterfully achieved with quick narrative brush strokes: every short story in the collection explores, with originality and incisiveness, a particular angle of this interesting theme. The line between fantasy and reality, actual life and virtual reality, is masterfully and tantalizingly blurred under different set of circumstances and scenarios. An absolute pleasure to read, this riveting book is very highly recommended to any reader who enjoyed watching "The Matrix". A well-deserved full 5-star rating. Outstanding.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Terrific set of shorts all connected by the theme of virtual reality and how reality and virtual reality blur. Some virtual realities are carefully constructed and trimmed and monitored. Others are prison traps where a second can feel like 284 torturous years. Others are worlds within worlds within worlds to the point you begin to wonder what's real and what's virtual. Clever, engaging, and lots of fun to read. Terrific set of shorts all connected by the theme of virtual reality and how reality and virtual reality blur. Some virtual realities are carefully constructed and trimmed and monitored. Others are prison traps where a second can feel like 284 torturous years. Others are worlds within worlds within worlds to the point you begin to wonder what's real and what's virtual. Clever, engaging, and lots of fun to read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    Sci-fi is my least favorite genre so I wasn't crazy about this book of short stories; however, I didn't hate it either so that's improvement! The stories were varied with such titles as "Seven Minutes in Heaven," "Irish Grudge," "First Contact," and even "Second Honeymoon," to name a few but they also had some commonalities, probably mainly virtual reality themes. The stories like "Smartest Guy in the Room" were the ones I liked better. It started off with one simple word: Gum. That is something Sci-fi is my least favorite genre so I wasn't crazy about this book of short stories; however, I didn't hate it either so that's improvement! The stories were varied with such titles as "Seven Minutes in Heaven," "Irish Grudge," "First Contact," and even "Second Honeymoon," to name a few but they also had some commonalities, probably mainly virtual reality themes. The stories like "Smartest Guy in the Room" were the ones I liked better. It started off with one simple word: Gum. That is something that I can relate to, but asteroids and BOTS and spaceships not so much. That being said, I didn't think the book was bad, especially because it is a commentary, I believe, on our current world, where more and more people are living in a world of virtual reality and neglecting what I call "real life" and living life in the physical reality, the here and now. The escape that virtual reality can provide often is taken too often, for too long, without any real consideration of whether or not or how it is affecting us.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Only Wants to Read

    A collection of 11 short stories with the common theme of virtual reality. The blurb compares it to Black Mirror, and these are definitely the kind of stories that would make excellent material for the show. All the stories are different, and I can't say there was one I didn't like. I particularly enjoyed First Contact , Cheat Code , and Smartest Guy in the Room . The eerie part about these stories is the feel and possibility of being close to reaching that point in technology, where we A collection of 11 short stories with the common theme of virtual reality. The blurb compares it to Black Mirror, and these are definitely the kind of stories that would make excellent material for the show. All the stories are different, and I can't say there was one I didn't like. I particularly enjoyed First Contact , Cheat Code , and Smartest Guy in the Room . The eerie part about these stories is the feel and possibility of being close to reaching that point in technology, where we--as humans--create alternative realities to escape our routine, just to find ourselves trapped in a fantasy that may or may not be better than reality. Excellent read! Thank you Netgalley and publishers for allowing me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dave Milbrandt

    I read a lot of sci-fi, and this was one of the first purely speculative fiction pieces I have read. Far from the typical blasters and 'bots, this is a great near-future commentary on our own times and its foibles. I really enjoyed how each simulation experience left you wanting to return to the real world. I also found it a sad commentary that, like in the contemporary world, everyone is seeking an escape from our daily hum-drum existence, only to find out that the life of our dreams isn't all I read a lot of sci-fi, and this was one of the first purely speculative fiction pieces I have read. Far from the typical blasters and 'bots, this is a great near-future commentary on our own times and its foibles. I really enjoyed how each simulation experience left you wanting to return to the real world. I also found it a sad commentary that, like in the contemporary world, everyone is seeking an escape from our daily hum-drum existence, only to find out that the life of our dreams isn't all it's cracked up to be. The work is reminiscent of Stephen King's "NeedfulThings".

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Fantom

    What an amazing group of science fiction short stories, all centred on around the idea of virtual reality, not so much fiction these days. Definitely heading closer and closer to these worlds imagined in this book. Its black mirror meets altered carbon. Very enjoyable and well written.. Of course there are always some you like more than others with short stories but i didn't dislike any of them. Four stars. What an amazing group of science fiction short stories, all centred on around the idea of virtual reality, not so much fiction these days. Definitely heading closer and closer to these worlds imagined in this book. Its black mirror meets altered carbon. Very enjoyable and well written.. Of course there are always some you like more than others with short stories but i didn't dislike any of them. Four stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Smith

    There are moments of brilliance and zaniness in this collection of short stories. It's a quick read, and some stories are more developed than others. By the end of the collection it just seemed like variations of The Matrix fan fiction. There are moments of brilliance and zaniness in this collection of short stories. It's a quick read, and some stories are more developed than others. By the end of the collection it just seemed like variations of The Matrix fan fiction.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C

    For what apears to be a self-published collection by a new author, this is better than you might expect, and Kneupper can certainly write in a brisk and engaging style. But there's a lack of variety in the eleven tales this contains - like repeated musings on a single theme. For what apears to be a self-published collection by a new author, this is better than you might expect, and Kneupper can certainly write in a brisk and engaging style. But there's a lack of variety in the eleven tales this contains - like repeated musings on a single theme.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    ARC received from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. In summary: These were all stories challenging the reader with reality, or at least our perception of reality. It brought up a few good questions while I was reading. I would certainly look for more work by Kneupper. I am going to be giving little reviews for each short story. If I wait until I have finished the collection I am sure I wont remember enough details. Seven Minutes in Heaven Not very twisty but certainly a D ARC received from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. In summary: These were all stories challenging the reader with reality, or at least our perception of reality. It brought up a few good questions while I was reading. I would certainly look for more work by Kneupper. I am going to be giving little reviews for each short story. If I wait until I have finished the collection I am sure I wont remember enough details. Seven Minutes in Heaven Not very twisty but certainly a Dark Mirror vibe going. Definitely feeling like this at work right now. *swipeswipeswipe* Restricted Fantasies A slightly twisted review on a story coming full circle. Both sides of the coin are seen and both of them are tarnished. Good follow up story would be on the two girls. Panopticon This one is glaringly similar to quite a few Dark Mirror episodes. The best prison is our own mind. Second Honeymoon Where we start to question glitch vs. hack. Not twisty, just disturbed. Irish Grudge The dangers of not letting things go is living in the past. First Contact In a universe where all alien species we come into contact with have withdrawn into their own simulated realities. One Peeping Tom gets an eye full. Evolution at its end? The Only Way Out is Down LoL Penisiraptors *smh* What would you do if you could create your own reality? Would you go down the rabbit hole? Cheat Code A perfect 'careful what you wish for' story. Rumspringa The Amish take care of the "English" that have sunk into their made up worlds. Lots of interesting angles to think about here. One of the most complete stories, favorite so far. Smartest Guy in the Room Do you choose to take the red pill or the blue pill? What if you wish that you could just go back. Pleasuredome After spending an eternity being anyone you want to be are you even 'you' anymore?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Banks

    Content Warning: One whole story is rescuing kids from a Nazi VR. It's very descriptive and disturbing. Another story is all about a prisoner who killed his girlfriend and daughter and his time in a futuristic torture prison. Immediately after that is a story about an abused woman who gets raped. I'm really conflicted about this book and rating. It's def. the terrifying dystopian spectrum of sci-fi. It's inventive and well written. But there's some red flags that ruin the credibility. After fini Content Warning: One whole story is rescuing kids from a Nazi VR. It's very descriptive and disturbing. Another story is all about a prisoner who killed his girlfriend and daughter and his time in a futuristic torture prison. Immediately after that is a story about an abused woman who gets raped. I'm really conflicted about this book and rating. It's def. the terrifying dystopian spectrum of sci-fi. It's inventive and well written. But there's some red flags that ruin the credibility. After finishing and looking back, I'm glad I stuck with it. Can't say I'd recommend it though unless it's undoubtedly your kind of thing. FYI: I haven't watched Black Mirror. I picked this up because I like sci-fi and haven't read any lately. 1st short story - Seven Minutes in Heaven. >>Yeah okay, clever. Extrapolating from the app games and Facebook. Fine so far. 2nd - Restricted Fantasies: >>Someone living in a VR with 1,000 genders and the punishment for misgendering is death? PAH LEESE. This isn't slippery slope to show how rediculous a position is. That's just bullshit. Red flag. >>Paragraph proclaiming Nazi's are cowards, which again is BS. Red Flag. >>Quote: "Right and left, and at the far end, they're just the same lunatics wearing symbols. I'd pulled kids out of a few sims run by "anti-fascists" and there wasn't a whole lot of different between them and Hienrich [who is a Nazi]. " Really? >>If I was just reading for pleasure, like borrowing from the library rather than a review copy, I might have quit here. 3rd - Panopticon: >>Okay, this was terrifying. But I'm a lefty against torture, holes, and the death penalty. I don't know how 'tough on crime' conservatives will take it. I liked researching panopticon afterwards. That was something new I appreciated learning. 4th - Second Honeymoon: >>CW for domestic abuse and rape. Terrible, depressing, and appalling. Honest to gods nightmare fuel. More so than the last story and more probable, IMHO. 5th - Irish Grudge: >>That's certainly a take on reliving memories. As someone with traumatic experiences and anxiety, I actually...liked this one? Was not expecting that. 6th - First Contact: >>This story felt like it took forever but worth it. Unique. Interesting, felt like a whole new real world. Of course it ends on a gross hedonistic note. 7th - The Only Way Out is Down: >>Yeah, you can really tell the author is a man with this one. Ughhhhh. Gross. Like boys who draw penises on everything and think they're the only people that count. 8th - Cheat Code: >>Well, one dumb fuck man got way more than he was worth and not what he deserved. Makes me laugh given all the people that think they can unlock shit like this with The Secret, etc. So many of these stories just screw everyone else over. I keep thinking how much it has to suck for everyone else. 9th - Rumspringa: >>This was amazing. Almost makes up for the titled-piece. If this was featured in an anthology of authors, and lead me to read the rest of the author's stories, I would feel mislead. It's so different and more...(I kinda want to say better, but that's not exactly right)...what I want than the others aside from Pleasuredome. 10th - Smartest Guy in the Room: >>Elitist pricks. Don't we all know one douche like this though? Ugh. I do like how douche got put down a peg unlike in Cheat Code. 11th - Pleasuredome: >> I love this. Much more like the sci-fi I know and love. My only nitpick is the world was set up as "we don't have enough information to live through different periods" but then dude gets so wrapped up in Roman gladiator times? Fishy. But otherwise great.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. For those who don’t know, NetGalley is a site that connects Authors and Publishers with readers by providing an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of a book in order to promote new and upcoming titles. Restricted Fantasies was released to the public on May 27, 2018, but I had received an email from NetGalley to check it out. After reading the blurb (see below), I was intrigued. "A Black Mirror-style sci-fi short story co I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. For those who don’t know, NetGalley is a site that connects Authors and Publishers with readers by providing an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of a book in order to promote new and upcoming titles. Restricted Fantasies was released to the public on May 27, 2018, but I had received an email from NetGalley to check it out. After reading the blurb (see below), I was intrigued. "A Black Mirror-style sci-fi short story collection about the perils of our virtual reality future - and whether we're already living in it." I am not usually a heavy sci-fi reader. I lean more towards high fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, contemporary fiction, chick-lit, and paranormal and contemporary romances. But recently with my book club, I've been trying to branch out of my comfort zone. I happened to watch Black Mirror earlier this year and I loved the concept. So I decided to give this collection of short stories a chance. Restricted Fantasies contains 11 short stories, each involving virtual reality, but each one is a different story. I wasn't sure of the best way to go about reviewing this book, but after some thought, I felt it'd be best to do a small review on each short story and then end with my final thoughts on the collection as a whole. For the sake of space on NetGalley and Goodreads, I will post my overall thoughts on the collection, but please visit my full book review here on my blog, Rainy Days, Books, and a Cup of Coffee at https://rainydaysbooksandcoffee.wordp.... Overall Thoughts: I felt that the author could have left out about 4 of these short stories and the collection would have been better for it. I am glad I read this because it was definitely thought-provoking. I was already leary of virtual reality after watching Sword Art Online (I don’t want to get stuck in a virtual reality death game) and this book has kind of sealed the deal. I think humanity already spends too much time connected virtually and we are losing a lot of what makes us human, even though some may not see it that way. I feel that the further we advance in technology, the more we lose ourselves and the greater the corruption and violence will spread. My overall score: 3.5 stars (I’ll round up to 4 on Goodreads and Netgalley since they don’t allow for ½ scores.) If you are interested in stories that take place in virtual reality, give this one a shot. You may enjoy it more than I did. :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Desiree reilly

    First i have to say i received this as arc to read and give my opinion, Wow this is a book that has different fantasy that you can and will enjoy and then you really don't believe that it can happen and will happen,There are 11 of them and they are all different they do not combined nothing together. The author tell the story as a bot and then as human were the bots can and will be come a person if they have to and you will not believe what a bot can do or what the hacker can do and they try to des First i have to say i received this as arc to read and give my opinion, Wow this is a book that has different fantasy that you can and will enjoy and then you really don't believe that it can happen and will happen,There are 11 of them and they are all different they do not combined nothing together. The author tell the story as a bot and then as human were the bots can and will be come a person if they have to and you will not believe what a bot can do or what the hacker can do and they try to destroy the story and the dreams of people .The 3 i like the best are the Second Honeymoon the couple want to go on a Honeymoon and the wife book it for couple of day you go in to the like shelter and open fridge i like to have watermelon and then it has slice of watermelon for you wow, This reminded me of the jest on type of movie you are in Paradise and you do not have to cook or clean that would be nice and the other in the book get even better. How a guy convince some one to help him escape prison but you see he had to have some one to play the guard and then the prisoner you can tell the wall to crumple or read a passage and then the hole will come open and they can get out but did the poor guy realize that he was playing for fool you see he was the warden and the other guy was the prisoner and now he in prison for over 100 years You will have to read the book and may be get in to the weird and great fantasy of the authors mine and his soul it take a great writer to be able to do this and he has some great ides

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    I love reading books that make me think about the consequences of our near future world and this book does that superbly! If you're curious about exploring the ethics and morals of AI but prefer to be exposed to them naturally through interesting plots vs. reading a verbose technical treatise this is a good book for you. Or if you enjoyed watching Black Mirror on Netflix then chances are you'd enjoy this book too! Once virtual reality exists and people can plug themselves into it and live there s I love reading books that make me think about the consequences of our near future world and this book does that superbly! If you're curious about exploring the ethics and morals of AI but prefer to be exposed to them naturally through interesting plots vs. reading a verbose technical treatise this is a good book for you. Or if you enjoyed watching Black Mirror on Netflix then chances are you'd enjoy this book too! Once virtual reality exists and people can plug themselves into it and live there should there be any restrictions? Should people be allowed to simulate the reign of the Nazis as they live as the Führer? Can they force others to live in there with them? What if it's only AI's that they make suffer? Are you interested in a possible explanation to the Fermi Paradox? In his sequel to his novel The 'Three-Body Problem' Liu Cixin suggests the Dark Forest Theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dar...). Kneupper suggest another seemingly plausible explanation. If you had the choice of living your fantasies inside a simulated world with mostly simulated people or living in the common ho-hum outside world which would you choose? A few quotes that I highlighted that I think transcend the stories and are useful outside the novel: That's all human consciousness was, anyway: a simulated reconstruction of reality based on inputs of often questionable accuracy, with gaps in the sense filled in by the brain as it went. The moment you put people into a simulated reality, there's nothing stopping them from creating a simulation inside the simulation. A little pleasure, a little pain. Pleasure to make you live, pain to make you grow.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    At least since I saw the movie The Matrix, I, along with many others, have been fascinated by the idea that our reality is not reality, but a simulation, and of course virtual reality, where we enter into a simulation from the real world, has provided endless fodder for speculation as well. The well-written and thought-provoking stories in Kevin Kneupper’s Restricted Fantasies explore the possibilities from a wide variety of perspectives, virtually all of them disturbing. Kneupper is able to inha At least since I saw the movie The Matrix, I, along with many others, have been fascinated by the idea that our reality is not reality, but a simulation, and of course virtual reality, where we enter into a simulation from the real world, has provided endless fodder for speculation as well. The well-written and thought-provoking stories in Kevin Kneupper’s Restricted Fantasies explore the possibilities from a wide variety of perspectives, virtually all of them disturbing. Kneupper is able to inhabit the minds of a plethora of different character types, from a bereft Amish mother to a self-educated college janitor to a disreputable “info diver” in the distant future, and he brings the reader there with him, allowing us to feel their frustrations, regrets, and ambitions. His settings are as varied, from the near (and frighteningly) plausible future of “Seven Minutes in Heaven” to a simulated prison in which inmates can virtually experience a sentence of several lifetimes in seconds or minutes (“Panopticon” - a reference to a system of control proposed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 19th century) to distant futures similar to The Matrix where humans (or non-humans) live entire lifetimes or longer in simulations as their bodies lie immobile in vats. Every one of these stories sucked me into its vividly imagined world, and not one of them disappointed. A very impressive collection. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Starr

    This would be a interesting book to read in the times we are living through today. I am late to this review but reading it now, (there's no time like the present) makes it that much more better for me this is like black mirror in some aspects and also comparable to ready player one and Fahrenheit 451. Here is some of the synopsis that had me going oh yes I wanna read that so if this part doesn't grab your attention try something else. You’ll meet a child protective services agent tasked with res This would be a interesting book to read in the times we are living through today. I am late to this review but reading it now, (there's no time like the present) makes it that much more better for me this is like black mirror in some aspects and also comparable to ready player one and Fahrenheit 451. Here is some of the synopsis that had me going oh yes I wanna read that so if this part doesn't grab your attention try something else. You’ll meet a child protective services agent tasked with rescuing children being raised by Neo-Nazis in an illegal simulation of their own darkest fantasies. You’ll meet a man who discovers the cheat code to our reality—and watch as it all goes horribly wrong. You’ll go on a futuristic Rumspringa with an Amish woman who lives it up in virtual reality for a few years before deciding whether to go home to the last unplugged community on Earth. You'll peek into the lives of virtual reality addicts, aliens, and mad billionaires. And you’ll journey into Sim-Sing, a simulated prison with a very unpleasant jailer. Whether you’re a fan of classic sci-fi or not, if you’ve ever wondered whether the things around you are real, whether The Matrix was just a movie, and where the line is between reality and fantasy, you’ll love this glimpse into a future that may yet come—and that may already be here.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Brown

    This self published collection of short stories caught my eye because it was compared to Black Mirror.  I'm basically addicted to Black Mirror and its Amazon counterpart, Electric Dreams.  While I am not generally a fan of short stories (David Sedaris aside), I really love speculative fiction, and this collection did not disappoint. The comparison to Black Mirror is apt and the writing is top notch. It's not easy to create so many unique voices in such a small space, but each narration is distinct, This self published collection of short stories caught my eye because it was compared to Black Mirror.  I'm basically addicted to Black Mirror and its Amazon counterpart, Electric Dreams.  While I am not generally a fan of short stories (David Sedaris aside), I really love speculative fiction, and this collection did not disappoint. The comparison to Black Mirror is apt and the writing is top notch. It's not easy to create so many unique voices in such a small space, but each narration is distinct, which prevented the stories from melding together in my mind.  My favorite stories were Rumspringa, which is a dystopian take on what happens when Amish youth enter a simulation and must choose between staying or leaving to join the church, and The Only Way Out is Down, which is a cautionary tale about what can go wrong when you give the wrong man just the tiniest bit of power.  From a speculative fiction viewpoint, I give Restricted Fantasies five out of five stars, and four out of five stars in general.  Thanks go to Kevin Kneupper for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories that are completely fine but I found that too many of them were too similar to be enjoyable for me. Several times I felt deja vu as though I was reading the same story for a second or third time. There is a common theme that runs throughout each story in this collection - how technology will affect and radically alter the future of mankind. This is being billed as great for fans of the TV show Black Mirror but to me, that just feels like a c Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories that are completely fine but I found that too many of them were too similar to be enjoyable for me. Several times I felt deja vu as though I was reading the same story for a second or third time. There is a common theme that runs throughout each story in this collection - how technology will affect and radically alter the future of mankind. This is being billed as great for fans of the TV show Black Mirror but to me, that just feels like a cheap way to get people to pick up this book. Yes, these stories have to do with technology, but there isn't much heart to them. What makes Black Mirror so effective is the ability that the show has to create a very human and relatable element to each story. I thought humanity was missing from a lot of these stories. That being said, there were a few standouts in here for me - particularly Rumspringa and Smartest Guy in the Room. I think that there would be potential for these to be expanded into full-length novels, as the short story format always leaves a little something to be desired. Short stories often work best, in my opinion, when they are simple. The subject matter in this collection begs for more world building and explanation and in order to make each story fit approximately 30 pages or so, a lot of that necessary explanation is sacrificed which ends up making these all feel too rushed. I received this ARC as a courtesy from NetGalley & the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ryann Crofoot

    The short version: There are twelve short stories in this collection, and only about half of them were my cup of tea. But, the ones I did enjoy, I LOVED! Full (mini) Review: In his collection of short stories, Kneupper takes virtual reality to the extreme, imagining how VR will fit into the future, whether it be for entertainment, for punishment, or in the life of crime. The stories I truly enjoyed felt a bit like The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror; they were on the darker side, but still seemed po The short version: There are twelve short stories in this collection, and only about half of them were my cup of tea. But, the ones I did enjoy, I LOVED! Full (mini) Review: In his collection of short stories, Kneupper takes virtual reality to the extreme, imagining how VR will fit into the future, whether it be for entertainment, for punishment, or in the life of crime. The stories I truly enjoyed felt a bit like The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror; they were on the darker side, but still seemed possible enough to add a little shock and horror. Unfortunately, only about half of them were like that. For me, the other half fell into two categories: "Why is this in here?" and "Close but no cigar!" There were a few of the stories that didn't have a point. I don't mean there was no moral to the story or anything, but I got to the end of a few of the stories and just felt like I had wasted my time, like I had been all wound up and then... nothing. The rest of them felt so close to being amazing, but they lacked a little something. Sometimes I just didn't care enough about the characters, sometimes I just needed a little more build-up to the big plot twist. There was just a little piece missing, but I still enjoyed these stories overall.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    You are entering the "Twilight Zone".... a collection of 12 stories that are connected by the concept of Virtual Reality. Kneupper has succeeded in a quality collection of highly effective stories of fairly equal expertise without any "clunkers" Numerous tales involving the ability to simulate an alternative reality are explored and open up a multitude of philosophical quandaries of the human condition. A child protective services worker has to enter a Nazi simulation to rescue the protagonists You are entering the "Twilight Zone".... a collection of 12 stories that are connected by the concept of Virtual Reality. Kneupper has succeeded in a quality collection of highly effective stories of fairly equal expertise without any "clunkers" Numerous tales involving the ability to simulate an alternative reality are explored and open up a multitude of philosophical quandaries of the human condition. A child protective services worker has to enter a Nazi simulation to rescue the protagonists two daughters from a bizarre alternative reality .... An Amish woman on Rumspringa lives vicariously in a futuristic alternative reality and has to decide if "going home" is an option .... the stories uncover an endless variety of virtual reality addicts and settings ... an existential prison ruled by a tyrannical computer program Thanks to NetGalley for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mindaugas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Eleven stories about simulated realities. Drawing clear inspiration from The Matrix, Inception and Black Mirror (among others) the book is based around the Simulation Theory and is the fictional cousin to Harari’s masterpiece Homo Deus. Some stories better than others but a strong overall collection and a couple real gems. Throughout the book you will encounter a variety of characters interacting with or existing within simulated realities. Some willingly and purposefully travelling to virtual w Eleven stories about simulated realities. Drawing clear inspiration from The Matrix, Inception and Black Mirror (among others) the book is based around the Simulation Theory and is the fictional cousin to Harari’s masterpiece Homo Deus. Some stories better than others but a strong overall collection and a couple real gems. Throughout the book you will encounter a variety of characters interacting with or existing within simulated realities. Some willingly and purposefully travelling to virtual worlds for pleasure or self preservation while others discovering by chance or through a system glitch that their reality is not what it seems to be. Whatever the story, there is a philosophical lesson in each of them and more often than not a common warning that we should be careful what we wish for. “Reality is nested. Like a Russian doll. With another doll inside, and another, and another. Now we’re not the big doll. I know that for sure.” The Only Way Out Is Down

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ab

    As described, this book of short stories reads delightfully and disturbingly like episodes of "Black Mirror" on Netflix. The difference with these is that they are all about altered realities via simulated universe/virtual reality scenarios. I was so impressed that one author could write so many varied-yet-well-written stories about a basically same device. While I do wish there were some variance from the VR scenario, they were good enough that I only grew a little weary by the last one or two As described, this book of short stories reads delightfully and disturbingly like episodes of "Black Mirror" on Netflix. The difference with these is that they are all about altered realities via simulated universe/virtual reality scenarios. I was so impressed that one author could write so many varied-yet-well-written stories about a basically same device. While I do wish there were some variance from the VR scenario, they were good enough that I only grew a little weary by the last one or two stories. And maybe the best ones were at the first third of the book, but that's still pretty good for a collection of stories. Off you like this kind of tech sci fi, don't let the slightly self-published-looking cover away you from this sci fi gem (there are so many poorly written sci fi collections, I realize).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    These 11 stories, focusing on virtual reality, portray a range of scenarios around living with, and within, virtual worlds. Of course, in the tradition of dark sci-fi, things seldom go as they should in these worlds or, when they do, it’s not exactly a positive experience for the people involved. In some instances, the downward spiral is pretty obvious, but in others there is definitely more of a twist. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. A few stories were a little obvious in the plotting, but These 11 stories, focusing on virtual reality, portray a range of scenarios around living with, and within, virtual worlds. Of course, in the tradition of dark sci-fi, things seldom go as they should in these worlds or, when they do, it’s not exactly a positive experience for the people involved. In some instances, the downward spiral is pretty obvious, but in others there is definitely more of a twist. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. A few stories were a little obvious in the plotting, but they were all very well told. And some could be turned into episodes of Black Mirror pretty effectively. Restricted Fantasies is a good book to pick up for anyone who enjoys dark sci-fi and doesn’t require all the aliens and space exploration and laser beams that often go with it. (Review in exchange for complimentary copy.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Adamson Stars in Her Eye

    Restricted Fantasies is a short story collections focusing on technology and human's interactions with it. While this collection has a Phillip K. Dick to it, the majority of stories are less involved and truly thought out. There are some great stories. The first in the book reminds me of childhood computer class: do a lot of math to get to a two minute game. The title story is wonderful with some great depth. The majority of other stories get you at the end and leave you almost hanging with emot Restricted Fantasies is a short story collections focusing on technology and human's interactions with it. While this collection has a Phillip K. Dick to it, the majority of stories are less involved and truly thought out. There are some great stories. The first in the book reminds me of childhood computer class: do a lot of math to get to a two minute game. The title story is wonderful with some great depth. The majority of other stories get you at the end and leave you almost hanging with emotion. These have never been my favorite types of stories; I always wanted to know the fall out. Kneupper does manage to get the perfect picture of human neuroticism and warns of us of a way we need not tread. I receied an ARC from NetGalley; all opiniosn are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I was really digging this book for awhile, and it does have a very Black Mirror/The Matrix-type slant. However, the cracks started to show about halfway through. While Black Mirror covers an entire spectrum of how Technology merges with the human condition, this set of short stories only focuses on virtual reality. Unfortunately, it begins to feel repetitive and it's a little insulting that out of eleven stories, only two are told from the perspective of a female. There were a few stand-out stor I was really digging this book for awhile, and it does have a very Black Mirror/The Matrix-type slant. However, the cracks started to show about halfway through. While Black Mirror covers an entire spectrum of how Technology merges with the human condition, this set of short stories only focuses on virtual reality. Unfortunately, it begins to feel repetitive and it's a little insulting that out of eleven stories, only two are told from the perspective of a female. There were a few stand-out stories, namely Restricted Fantasies and Panopticon, but the remaining were just kinda "meh" and occasionally derivative. So some good, some eh overall it was an okay read. ARC provided by NetGalley

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily Moore

    What really made me pick up this book is the comparison between it and Black Mirror - which is entirely true. But to be more specific, these stories are all connected by the same thread of virtual reality and how it could impact people and our culture. These stories leave that same eerie vibe you get after an episode of Black Mirror of possibility and nervousness. This collection of short stories has a variety of lengths and approaches to looking at the thematic. At a little over 100 pages, Restr What really made me pick up this book is the comparison between it and Black Mirror - which is entirely true. But to be more specific, these stories are all connected by the same thread of virtual reality and how it could impact people and our culture. These stories leave that same eerie vibe you get after an episode of Black Mirror of possibility and nervousness. This collection of short stories has a variety of lengths and approaches to looking at the thematic. At a little over 100 pages, Restricted Fantasies is a quick read that I think holds up well together. The stories are all fairly strong and make sense as a good fit and flow. My only complaint is that a few of the stories felt like different characters in the same story. That is to say not all stories took a dramatically different look from each other but are a next evolution of the same concept. I’m providing this review in return for an ARC through NetGalley.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Corrie

    I've veered away from my "read more books outside my normal comfort zone" New Year's Resolution, so this is a half-hearted attempt back to that--speculative fiction is my comfort zone, but self-published e-books are not. Anyway, I was surprised by this short story collection. The execution wasn't something I'd call literarily masterful, and I'd be remiss not to mention that you will cringe at a few anti-trans, misogynistic moments, but I still wanted to keep reading to the end. If you're looking I've veered away from my "read more books outside my normal comfort zone" New Year's Resolution, so this is a half-hearted attempt back to that--speculative fiction is my comfort zone, but self-published e-books are not. Anyway, I was surprised by this short story collection. The execution wasn't something I'd call literarily masterful, and I'd be remiss not to mention that you will cringe at a few anti-trans, misogynistic moments, but I still wanted to keep reading to the end. If you're looking for a mindless read that rehashes the basics of the spec fic sci fi, this is it. Thanks to NetGalley for the free copy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Review based on ARC from NetGalley: Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories which have the common theme of VR worlds. Many of the stories deal with subject matter that may be disturbing to some such as the one about a government agent searching for 2 girls who have been kidnapped by their neo-Nazi father and are plugged into his Nazi fantasy world. Most are an interesting look at how a technology we have to day could be turned into a paradise for some while being hell for others. The Review based on ARC from NetGalley: Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories which have the common theme of VR worlds. Many of the stories deal with subject matter that may be disturbing to some such as the one about a government agent searching for 2 girls who have been kidnapped by their neo-Nazi father and are plugged into his Nazi fantasy world. Most are an interesting look at how a technology we have to day could be turned into a paradise for some while being hell for others. The stories are not overly long, which makes it easy to read one or two, set the book aside and come back to it later. Science fiction fans, particularly those who liked "Snow Crash" will enjoy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karen A. Wyle

    I was excited to hear about this story collection shortly before it came out, and it didn't disappoint. The author starts with the general idea of life within a simulation and explores it in many imaginative directions. Only the longer stories do much with character, but the crisp writing and ingenious variations on the theme are amply rewarding -- and sometimes quite surprising. There may have been one story too many and/or a couple of stories that overlap a bit more than is ideal, but I'm delig I was excited to hear about this story collection shortly before it came out, and it didn't disappoint. The author starts with the general idea of life within a simulation and explores it in many imaginative directions. Only the longer stories do much with character, but the crisp writing and ingenious variations on the theme are amply rewarding -- and sometimes quite surprising. There may have been one story too many and/or a couple of stories that overlap a bit more than is ideal, but I'm delighted to have bought and read this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This anthology was pretty interesting, but maybe a little bit too dark and cynical for my tastes. I enjoyed reading about the possible future of VR. A few of the stories were just a little bit obvious about the "evils of technology." I'm someone who recognizes that social media isn't perfect, but Kneupper definitely seems to prescribe to the idea that somehow social media is corrupting us all and the future is very bleak because of it. But the stories were interesting and even plausible at times This anthology was pretty interesting, but maybe a little bit too dark and cynical for my tastes. I enjoyed reading about the possible future of VR. A few of the stories were just a little bit obvious about the "evils of technology." I'm someone who recognizes that social media isn't perfect, but Kneupper definitely seems to prescribe to the idea that somehow social media is corrupting us all and the future is very bleak because of it. But the stories were interesting and even plausible at times! Overall a solid book of short stories.

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