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If NFTs are "worthless", how come I have written a third novel about NFTs saving the future?

Answer me that, hedgies!

A cyberkitten on the cover of the novel WORTHLESS: A Non-Fungible Future Drop.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

After unforeseeable problems with Elon Musk's public image, my publishers delayed my debut young adult novel about teenagers saving the future using NFTs. I rolled with the punches, fighting back against Musk's cult of personality with a bold new direction for the future of the 'chain in the second novel of my Non-Fungible Future series. Well. I had expected both books to be in your hands already (and on the bestseller list), but now my publishers are concerned by that report declaring "the vast majority of NFTs are worthless". Well then! As we say on the Infobahn: when Turing closes a crypto exchange, he opens an ICO. So in the wake of Cyber Monday, I now present to you a sneak peek at my third Non-Fungible Future novel, a mint read I call 'Worthless'.

The sky above the port was the colour of... 5arah.eth didn't know and she did not care. She sat on the harbour wall, staring down past her combat boots. Trash. A faded haggis ramen pot overturned in the scorched silt. Trash. A crack revealing strata of vape pens, LaserDiscs, and bags for life. All of it, trash. The melted bumper of the weed-green Tesla Model X once owned by... she couldn't even say his name. Everything, trash. Two empty bottles of Irn-Bru Kombucha rising like the legs of Ozymandias. 5arah snorted. Look on my apes, ye Mighty, and despair!

"Worthless," they'd declared. Most NFTs were "worthless." The greatest artistic movement since The Big BSoD, the greatest proof of the power of the blockchain, the very future of the whole funging Infobahn, and the hedgie soybean-counters say it's all "worthless." And people believed them! 5arah wanted to believe in humanity, to trust in a shared desire for freedom and creativity and joy and hope, but if they couldn't even see the value of niftys... That thought was too much to handle right now, so she marked it Unread for later.

5arah.eth pulled up her AR overlay and jacked into her crypotwallet with her authentication gesture, pointing a fingergun up under her chin and firing. The nifty collection once envied by so many swirled around her in a double helix of data. Her middle finger twitched unconsciously as she scrolled, a habit she'd developed after her class at Jolt Cola Presents: LearnZone #C90103's trip to the local Razer Museum. She'd been fascinated by a 'mouse', rolling the scrollwheel back and forth while rolling the word across her lips. Apparently it was named after some extinct animal? Hypnotised by its colourful pulsing LEDs, she'd fallen so deeply into this meditative motion and mantra that she almost missed her timeslot for a holoselfie with Min-Liang Tan's avatar. She kept scrolling through the "worthless" collection the blockchain proved—PROVED—she owned.

Six StonedApes, including two with the coveted septum tattoos. God rolls for every gun in Gods Of Combat—even those outwith the current meta, just in case. A menagerie of StonedCatz, StonedDogz, StonedImagineBabyz, and so on, and so on. Enough hats, garments, and skins for different games and cyberspaces to clothe half the Infobahn. The title to a square foot of land in Glencoe 2.0. A hangar's worth of spaceships for an MMO which shut down 17 years ago. The video of Ian Falcon's final 720 noscope. Eight Pet Rox. A vast library of 'fakes' and 'scams' collected as curios proving the hedgies can't control the 'chain. A 420-minute album of hag house music generated with her handle as the seed. The digital rights to the molars of some guy in New Jersey. The cover art to something called 1/1: A Non-Fungible Future... huh, why does this feel so familiar? An entire rack of Ed Hardy BMXs. The genetic sequence of a redwood. A ringtone whose ledger proved it was once owned by... ugh she quickly transferred ownership of that one to a nearby e-gull. Renders of assorted proprietary video game characters. At least a dozen 69th mintings which 5arah had picked up because, well, you know. Wait. Go back. There it was.

The nifty in question was a portrait of an old guy from some game named Civilization but what caught her eye was the caption: "Keep your mind open, and be the change you want to see in the world." 5arah's lip curled into a sneer, then spread into a smile. She knew what to do. Yet again, the 'chain had the answer. She laughed. "Worthless," they say.

A cyberkitten on the cover of the novel WORTHLESS: A Non-Fungible Future Drop.
People were interested in my kitten's favourite video game so she's replacing me as the series cover model for that sweet, sweet engagement!Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

NFTs being "worthless" only matters if you're the sort of funging hedgie in it for money, right? The sort of $SHIBbing shill whose presence sullies the revolutionary artform of our time. But if you're in NFTs for the liberty and power of the blockchain, well, the so-called collapse of the so-called market is a golden opportunity. 5arah realises that now is her opportunity to reclaim the future, to snap up every mint ape that hedgies had hoarded. NFTs cry out to be seen. She can be the change she wants to see in the world.

Attentive readers will have noticed an environmental edge running through the excerpt. This time, the NFTeens' revolution will go beyond saving culture, they're saving the very world. The only answer to the pollution and waste of consumerism is cryptoconsumerism. There'll be no more dropped crisp packets when your snacks are NFTs. The waste of fast fashion means nothing when your clothes are digital. As her cryptowallet swells with "worthless" mint apes snapped up cheap as last year's computer chips, you won't believe quite how digital 5arah can go. Dare you follow?

Look, I wish as much as you that this blip in the NFT market hadn't delayed my books, but it'll not stop me. Creativity is born of adversity. I already rolled with the astonishing surprise that Elon Musk wasn't going to save us, and the second part of Non-Fungible Future came out even stronger from it. One day it will come out and you'll see. Creativity is born of constraints. The twisting of the chain is part of why it's so exciting to work with NFTs. I trust and hope that all three books will be published in time for Christmas. And perhaps the books won't be merely printed, they'll be... minted. Watch this space!

Wait. Go back. Before I leave you, I must address what might have been—and might yet be. The most attentive readers will have noticed a tantalising teaser in the excerpt. Rooting around her vast library of NFTs, 5arah found... the cover art to the first Non-Fungible Future novel?! How could this be?! Well, before the allegations spooked my publisher, the third book was due to go in a whole other exciting direction. Imagine: not just a net built of NFTs, but an entire multiverse. That's right, we were headed Across The Niftyverse!

This will doubtless change after plans for my third book took a dramatic turn, but I thought you might enjoy a few behind-the-scenes secrets from what could have been. The Niftyverse brings exciting storytelling opportunities for alternate timelines and "What if?" scenarios and more than that, it opens the series up to branding opportunities.

NFTs from other fictional worlds could 'cross over', binding the realities. Consider that we can assume NFTs exist in modern-day settings such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Night Court, and WWE. Hell, even fantasy can work! Let's not forget that Lord Of The Rings had small-run mintings of non-fungible rings: three for the elves, nine for the dwarves, and a $SHIB-hot exclusive 1/1 for Sauron. Now that would be a funging mint ape to hodl alright! And just imagine what Deadpool might have to say about our Non-Fungible Future—and you, the reader!

So after discovering an NFT novel telling her life story, 5arah would dive into the deep, dark web in search of answers. They she would meet mysterious netizens (at least one of whom speaks suspiciously like... ChatGPT?) who would reveal to her a whole new level of the blockchain. Sure, her niftys might be unique and precious entries on her reality's blockchain ledger, but the niftyverse automatically funges the unfungible. Unless... The Old Code speaks of one truly non-fungible token. One token at the heart of all Infobahns. One token to unite everybahn into the non-fungible future we ache for... or destroy it all. 5arah will have to answer the biggest question of all: who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Hedgie, you ain't ready for this truth!

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.