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When You Were Pixels

(Syntax #0.1)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  876 ratings  ·  329 reviews
A standalone short story in the Syntax universe.

An assassin has come to Tower 072, and no one can keep him from his target.

Only minutes from escape, he suffers a violent seizure, collapsing in a service corridor.

A lonely surveillance operator becomes the only person in the building to see him fall. Antho is no murderer, but in watching the killer stumble he recognizes some
Kindle Edition, Second Edition, 41 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by One True Ink (first published August 2nd 2013)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  876 ratings  ·  329 reviews

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Julio Genao
Jul 07, 2013 marked it as i-wrote-this  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: everyone. everyone in the world. twice.
Recommended to Julio by: my gruesome love-life.
see excerpt below


“Lovely, heartbreaking—and hot.”
J.C. LILLIS, author of How to Repair a Mechanical Heart

“Beautiful. Every line reads like poetry. Like stark, desolate poetry.”
LISA HENRY, author of Dark Space

"Amazing... reminds you that love can happen even in the darkest of places."
HEIDI CULLINAN, author of Love Lessons

"It's very nice."
MARIA GENAO, author of Julio Alexi Genao


Goodreads is a place for people who love books to be social, and
Lisa Henry
Every word here is perfect.

Every line reads like poetry.

Not a single one wasted.

Read this.

That is all.

Actually, that's not all.

I'm gonna go all writer on you guys now. So, sometimes you read a story and it transports you to somewhere entirely new, and entirely unexpected, and it's wonderful. And the reader in you loves it. And the writer in you curls up in a little ball and says, "Why didn't you think of that? Get me more wine."

But, you guys, it's not the plot. Plot, meh. It's the executi
Julio, you amaze me, your talent shines through every word and your wonderful gift of the gab wows me. Pixels is an emotional heart-kicker and god you made me cry like I haven't in very long time. You're lucky I still love you especially after putting me through the wringer. Beautiful, powerful storytelling and a definite favourite, an unforgettable experience. There is no way my review does it the justice it deserves. I seriously wish I was a wordsmith right now. Check out the brilliant reviews ...more
Rosalinda *KRASNORADA*
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone and their mama
Recommended to Rosalinda *KRASNORADA* by: Bev

WOW. What a beautiful journey! I wish this had been longer. This is the first time I read a book from this author and I’m totally speechless. I must admit I was a little reticent about this one because this is not my genre but seeing my buddies loved it I decided to give it a try and it completely blew me away. I am not giving it 5 starts because of the length (but I am pretty sure Julio is a 5 star writer).His voice is just MUSIC TO MY EARS, this was way close to poetry!

Antho and his story will
Richard Derus
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.5* of five

The Author Says: An assassin has come to Tower Oh-Seven-Two, and no one can keep him from his target.

Only minutes from escape, he suffers a violent seizure, collapsing in a service corridor.

A lonely surveillance operator becomes the only person in the building to see him fall. Antho is no murderer, but in watching the killer stumble he recognizes something that links the two of them together.

When he rescues the assassin in secret, he finds the monster on his screen is only a
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!!

**edit 24/10/14. Thought it was about time I re-read this, this being my shiny 2nd edition copy from Amazon, instead of my LHNB freebie copy from last year (which is forever locked away in my Best of the Best). Just as bloody good as last time. Many congrats Mr Published Author, and I hope Mrs Genao is still as proud of her little boy!!**

Joolz, you're a natural my dear. I said it would be a matter of when and not if you became an author, well, congrats, you've achieved your goal. This little st
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sublime. A tightly-crafted, elegant short story that utilizes the freedom of science fiction to expose truth. Questioning now while projecting the discourse onto another plane, circling around and bringing us back to our human condition--now. Well done.

Antho--existing in stasis, a sober and sterile life that is both better and worse, awakens one day. Choices. Why? Sometimes the answers are unclear, but he starts a dance--between love and sorrow, accepting both as a panacea to the emptiness that
4.5 stars

I loved you when you were pixels on a screen.

How can 7k short story with such efficient choice of words was able to make it feels like it grabbed my heart, squeezed it, and took it out from inside my chest? I have no words. It was just brilliant, delicately poetic, and achingly beautiful. I am sorry, you all need to read reviews from others. This story dismantle my capability to form an opinion.

Yes -- it is almost perfect. It will be perfect if I can bribe Julio to give us the seque
5 Tender Stars - so nice and beautiful - my heart is sore

This pretty short, but so sweet, M/M-story managed to make me feel so much in just a few (35) book pages. I marked so many beautiful lines of text, but because the story is so short, I don't want to give you too much here. Then perhaps I reveal too much and takes away the magic of the story for you. Instead read this lovely little shorty - it's free on
‘I gave you all my secrets, and you lost them al
Donald Davidson once wrote,

A picture is not worth a thousand words, or any other number. Words are the wrong currency to exchange for a picture.

And a professional con artist called Gorgias once wrote that even if we could apprehend something, we wouldn't be able to convey it to another person. And that guy was trying to be a smartass, but he still managed to say something so painfully true:

Even if we could find the perfect words to tell another person about our feelings, we can't make them reall
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-archive, mm
I have to admit that I waited to read this not because I didn't want to read it, but because I really did. It's a habit of mine sometimes to hold off on reading books I‘ve been waiting to read because I know that once I finish they will be over especially when I have to wait for more. I’m really glad I finally read this, but sad as well because it’s over. I’m a bit pouty at times.

On to the review at hand.

I really loved the writing style. The point of view made the story feel more powerful, and m
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Guess what, kids? Second edition is out today!

I should not have loved this.

I don’t like dystopias, or read much science fiction, or poetry. And I don’t like to read stuff that makes me cry. Usually if a story makes me cry I feel manipulated and ticked off.

When You Were Pixels is a heart-squeezing piece of poetry set in a futuristic dystopia. It is a love letter and a goodbye letter and an introduction to a world which will continue in future stories.

Full disclosure: I edited this for Julio, and
If we each had our own personal reading paradise, mine would be When You Were Pixels.

You know those moments when you need to put down your reader and take a breath? The times when you have to pause and ponder and wallow in the delight that's in front of your eyes? When the feeling inside you is close to euphoric? Well, this story did all those things for me.

Pixels is a heady mix from the very first line; a cocktail of emotions and reactions. It serves extreme doses of both pleasure and pain. It
4,5 amazing beautiful heartbreaking stars!


I was unprepared.
I had no idea what this short novel is about.
How long? 32 pages.
32 pages of enchanting poesy.
Beautiful. Amazing beautiful. Heartbreaking beautiful.
It touched me in a way I have never expected a short novel can do.

You won't remember me. You won't need me anymore.
You will leave me again.
I forgive you. I forgave you. I will always forgive you.
You should know that for a little while, you were not alone.Not alone.
I loved you w
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Review to come when my husband ungrounds me from the computer. Insert cuss word here.

And since I'm at work and away from the boss goes!

Julio-you broke my cold little heart with this one. If any of you guys don't follow/friend go do it in a hurry. He cracks me up every single day.

This little short story packed so much punch. Just frigging wonderful. All those cookies were worth it.

I think these kittehs read it too.
This story holds the magic upon which sagas are built.

When You Were Pixels blew my mind into little pieces. Within seconds I know where I am, I see the corridors, I hear the noises of the hydraulic doors opening and closing, I smell both the dust and the faint odor of ozone that lingers after the assassin has passed. The imagery (both more stark and much darker than even the initial prompt-image) is of a desolation that is made out of pure, stunning anguish.

It is quite a feat for a short story
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Here are some things I don’t do:

• Read short stories

• Read self-published work

• Read stuff my Goodreads friends write

I decided to break all my rules because Julio makes me laugh every day and every once in awhile I need to break out of my comfort zone and take a risk. I also figured if I didn’t like what Julio had to say he would either (i) be totally gracious or (ii) so entertaining while lighting me up that I would still want to be his friend.

How I feel after reading When You Were Pixels?

Duchess Nicole


I don't even know what to say...this is such a short story to pack such a powerful punch. I mean, I had tears in my eyes over a couple that I've only known for 23 pages! Ah, the power of words from a talented writer. If this is the first example of things to come from this author, I cannot wait to read more.

This is a sci-fi/dystopian M/M romance, but you're not really hit over the head with any of that. I literally sunk in
Wow, just wow!

There was so much anticipation for this story and it did not disappoint, it was amazing.

You sure do give good sentence Joolz.

I really liked the format, a letter written by Antho, pouring out all his emotions to the mysterious assassin. A whole world built up just by reading a letter. My heart broke for him, but I felt his hope and happiness too, even if we both knew it was for too brief a time. The letter read like poetry and so much emotion was conveyed in very few words.

Really a
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful! You made me cry. I want more. Enough said. Thank you.
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition






"I loved you when you were pixels on a screen..."

Vanessa North
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this three times.

I read it, then i dragged my finger across the screen along the bottom, taking me to the beginning to read it again. The last time i remember re-reading anything so immediately, I was twelve years old and had just finished Marion Zimmer Bradley's the Firebrand, a book which has been a favorite for decades.

After reading it the second time, I needed to think about what I was going to say about it, because i had all these mind-jumbles going on. Then i felt like i'd waited to
I wanted my last book of 2013 to be meaningful, something that would stick in my craw and stay with me into the new year.

"When You Were Pixels" does just that.

A little over 8000 words to describe a love letter from a lonely surveillance operator (Antho) to an assassin. An assassin who is deadly and delivers a world of hurt to those that cross him. But for Antho, this assassin is worthy of love, Antho's love.

The story aches with loneliness, hope, hurt and love. It has #feels written all over it.
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read this twice today - once to myself and then again aloud to my wife. I wanted to be sure that it wasn't just me that felt a dissonant longing for more.

You see, we were both early adopters on the Hugh Howey bandwagon. We read that first short story and wanted more. Having finished all of the Wool series (but none of the fan-fiction. Please.) I can only say that Genao's world building in this story left us more excited than when we finished Howey's first short story. There are so many things
This story made me crave. Yes, I know, I'm an addict to books, cigarettes and coffee but this story is right up there with my deadly three. The style is what brought it, as far as I'm concerned. If I had read a blurb about this storyline, I would have probably passed it by since it's not in my regular type of subjects. Julio made it shine. I was glued to every word and wanted, more, more, more. I'm so glad that he's working on that, "more," thing. Yes, this story is a bit sad, but I love an emot ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always said, "I don't do science-fiction / dystopian." Well, now I can say, "Converted!"

Short and compact, but this little gem fits a lot into a few pages.

A securtiy guard, Antho, is watching an assassin on his monitor and is immediately attracted to him. Probably due to his own loneliness and living conditions. After an accident Antho takes the assassin back to his room, all in fear of his life a relationship develops that is as heartbreaking as it is hopeful. The assassin suffers from acute
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

I read for many reasons, but to *feel* could be the number one answer. Some of my favorite writers evoke and inspire huge joy and pain in my heart, but they also take a lot out of me. They leave a mark. In some ways, I guess you could say they change me. I wish I could explain it with words, put a name to it, and point it out on the big screen. But I can’t. I just know when I find that certain extraordinary element and power on the page. I can feel it. When You Were Pixels holds that en
Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌
Even before I'd read this book, a lot of things were going through my mind. First: excitement. I mean, it's a story written by one of my GR friends, so excitement and cheers and yays and all that crap. And then, when I saw the No HEA or HFN tag, the moment of glory shattered and I backtracked a few kilometers. I do not read books or stories or fics or any-fucking-thing with no HFN at the least. At least not voluntarily or knowingly.

But, it was Julio.

So I took a deep breath, and started reading
poking-fun review moved to after serious-er review

On a more serious note (5/13/2014)
Enough time has passed that this is distant enough in my memory that I feel I can begin to evaluate this story.

Comments as I read:
The author has a way with words. The beginning is succinct, but also oddly compelling. It weaves, in a few short words, a hint at a tale of tragedy and set the tone quite nicely. There are times, though, that the diction seems to snap a bit out of the persona and reflect more the aut
Lisa *-* GiViNg It To YoU * LoCk StOcK & TwO SmOkiNg BaRrELs
I was alone today when I decided to read your story

I decided to read it out loud....out loud to myself

So that not only could I hear it in my head, I wanted to

Feel it

Live it

Savour it

But when I got to that very last page my voice broke and transcended to a whisper and I had to catch my tears fell from my eyes.

It was so wonderfully written, so poetic and flawless I couldn't help but be totally entranced in it all.

I LoVeD yOu WhEn YoU WeRe PiXeLs On A sCrEeN
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JULIO ALEXI GENAO writes for money and reviews for pleasure.

he freelances as an editor of fiction and corporate communications when he has opportune breaks in his hectic twitter schedule.

he eschews capital letters unless someone is paying him, because he is lazy and belligerent, and not because he is an artiste.

he is not defensive about that at all.

or about his choice to write this bio in the thi

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Syntax (2 books)
  • A Syntax of Memory (Syntax #1)
  • Nightfall in a Glass House (Syntax #2)

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22 likes · 16 comments
“I loved you even when you forgot me.

And—for a little while—you loved me back.”
“I gave you all my secrets, and you lost them all. You lost a lot of things.

But the treasure of it was in the giving, not the keeping.”
More quotes…