On the whole, I enjoyed growing up in the Virtual Cloister. Some of my friends used to fret because they were never sure which nuns were real and which simply cge’s. They spent hours each day carefully watching each sister, and then met at night to try to hash out whether Sister Mathematica had been badly programmed or simply had neurological issues. Did Sister Perpetua glow because she shared a special relationship with God, or was it simply l.e.d.s? (One night over the very weak beer we brewed in the chemistry lab I suggested it might be both. The idea was not met with any enthusiasm). While I joined in the speculation, I wasn’t really concerned. Being 14 I was far more concerned with the question of my own reality. Of course, I had better than usual reasons for this concern.
The nuns themselves had been in the VC so long that I think they were no longer sure who was what. “Children,” Mother Superior would warble “reality is a variable quality, and not to be relied upon. Better to be a decent illusion, a pious dream, or even a moral enigma, than the most solid citizen of a wicked world.”
When my father found himself in sole charge of me, I’m told, he first, very fairly, asked my advice, persuaded that no one could be more concerned in the matter. Unluckily, at seven weeks I had not yet developed the ability to calmly weigh all factors and come to a workable solution for which I would later be notorious, nor did I discuss my ideas with sufficient clarity. Given that my advice (which he was willing to believe was cogent) was couched in a tongue unknown to him, he made the best decision he could. A superb swordsman, an expert tactician, a fair battle wizard, he had no idea of how to raise a child, having never been one himself. He met his ancient foe the Cyberpope in an inn on neutral ground. Between them, they decided that no better place could be found for me, at least for the time being, than the Virtual Cloister.