Things in the future are great… on the surface.
Any time you want you can change your body any way you can imagine. Purple skin, no problem. Pointy ears, no problem. Wings, or fins, or two-meter hair, whatever you want to look like you can have it… if you have the credits.
And JEF, the helpful AI that runs things, makes sure that everyone stays happy by buying Omni Burgers, crystal unicorns, approved-knowledge downloads and other wild stuff.
But scratch that shiny surface and things aren’t really so nice. People are a bit sad and lonely and can’t really talk to each other. And while they’re always connected online none of those connections really mean anything. But Sav (a geeky outcast who misses her Gran) and Preen (a one-time mega-influencer now trying to make good) have a plan to fix things, called ‘The Rez’.
With help of Gran’s old phone they’re able to communicate to the kids of the 2020s, and they’re asking us for tips about ‘kindness’ and ‘friendship’ that can bring people closer together, bring down JEF, help people think and do for themselves, and generally make the world a better place.
But JEF thinks things are just fine as they are and will do anything to stop them….
A hacker, a coder, and a maker who remembers "The Time Before," Gran mysteriously disappeared when Sav was little. But she’s left Sav and Preen and old "phone" with recorded secrets about "kindness" and "friendship" that she says can save the world. She also fancies herself something of joker.
The Judiciously Engineered Friend, JEF is a crafty and clever AI who thinks as long as people keep buying stuff they should be happy. JEF will do anything to defend a world where only things it can measure with its algorithms, like followers, XPs, ‘chieves’ (achievements), credits (money) and Omni Burgers, have any value. JEF is very anxious about the "Wilds," where its signal doesn’t quite reach.
No one in the Build-a-Block Bunch works harder than Krispy. She doesn’t have the credits to buy all the fancy new skins for her creations so she has to do everything by hand. That’s a bit embarrassing for her… until the famous Preen della Preen shows up to help.
The inventor of an incredible new socializing and friendship app called GabFace, NYE has figured out a way to connect everyone in the world… and to score and assess their conversations. What could possibly be wrong with that? (And does NYE look familiar?)
A self-centered influencer, Preen had it all: deluxe pad, upside-down waterfall, crystal unicorn, the latest body mods, and lots of fake praise from fake friends. Then a bad hair day makes everything start to wobble and sends him looking for something better with real people.
Shy, lonely and a bit nerdy, but great at splicing together bits of old tech, Sav lives in your bulk-standard hab with her bulk standard Dad. She misses her Gran who disappeared some time ago, doesn’t like her life much, and sometimes can’t understand her new flashy friend, Preen.
Well "Barny" is his real name, which no one can seem to get right. He’s a bit sad and miserable, and Preen’s biggest fan. More worried about chasing chieves and getting attention, he’s not the best dad in the world and is easily tricked into helping JEF when he knows he shouldn’t.
Books and reading about the past are what Tam lives for. He’s also a huge follower of "The Rez," the secret casts of Preen and Sav. Tam really wants to build a "school" in an old library, but he doesn’t have many students (or much patience when Preen volunteers). But all Tam’s "un-JEF-ed" knowledge means the drones are after him.