Character sketches: Natalie Ryan

Natalie is a fifteen-year-old junior at Marirene Wyman Magnet School for the Arts in Trindle, Tennessee, a thirty-year-old New Community about an hour’s drive from Knoxville. She studies music, specifically singing and playing classical instruments. However, her true interest lies in electronica, which in 2062 has surpassed rock as the “fringe” music of choice. Natalie admires radical ‘ronics who reject instruments entirely in favor of the “pure” experience one can only achieve when removing all variables from the production of one’s music–creating exactly what they envision through the use of computers. She finds her studies dull and pointless, but as she has a talent for it, she manages As and Bs without having to try very hard.

Natalie’s parents were divorced six months before the opening of the book. Natalie and her sister were both verbally abused by their alcoholic mother, who now lives in Wisconsin with her parents and is being treated for her addiction. Natalie thinks her mother is pathetic and has no interest in ever seeing her again.

Since the divorce, Natalie’s father has become very protective, to the point that Natalie finds every excuse possible to avoid him and his questions.

Natalie, like virtually everyone born after the Last Disconnected Generation, has neural implants through which she can perform advanced computational tasks and connect to the Internet. These implants are directly tapped into the central nervous system, giving modern physicians unprecedented ability to diagnose illness. In the last decade, this connection has been reverse-engineered to allow the production of artificial sensations, though this market is highly regulated by most world governments.

(Most ronics compose their music entirely in their heads–often they don’t physically hear their own work until it’s debuted at a gazz, the 2060s term for a house party or rave. Some fringe artists refuse to have their music played at all, instead sharing it with a group at a Download, in which all participants “listen” to the music in their heads.)

Natalie feels somewhat protective towards her younger sister Paige, but she also feels a certain amount of antipathy towards the child who likes to follow her around. After all, she gets enough of that from her father.

Natalie is a beautiful young woman who developed early. She has shoulder-length straight blond hair and hazel eyes.