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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Avatar Construction Set  
  A collection of software that allows the building of a complete avatar.  

In the real world, you have choices about your appearance, but you are limited by your real height and weight (among other characteristics).

In the virtual world, the Metaverse, the appearance of your avatar can vary as much as you like.

The Ports serve a function analogous to airports: This is where you drop into the Metaverse from somewhere else. Once you have materialized in a Port, you can walk down the Street or hop on the monorail or whatever. The couples coming off the monorail can't afford to have custom avatars made and don't know how to write their own. They have to buy off-the-shelf avatars. One of the girls has a pretty nice one. It would be considered quite the fashion statement among the K-Tel set. Looks like she has bought the Avatar Construction Set and put together her own, customized model out of miscellaneous parts. It might even look something like its owner.

Her date doesn't look half bad himself. The other girl is a Brandy. Her date is a Clint. Brandy and Clint are both popular, off-the-shelf models. When white trash high school girls are going on a date in the Metaverse, they invariably run down to the computer-games section of the local Wal-Mart and buy a copy of Brandy. The user can select three breast sizes: improbable, impossible, and ludicrous. Brandy has a limited repertoire of facial expressions: cute and pouty; cute and sultry; perky and interested; smiling and receptive; cute and spacy. Her eyelashes are half an inch long, and the software isso cheap that they are rendered as solid ebony chips. When a Brandy flutters her eyelashes, you can almost feel the breeze. Clint is just the male counterpart of Brandy. He is craggy and handsome and has an extremely limited range of facial expressions.

From Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam in 1992
Additional resources -

Thanks to Jonathan Bearce who reminded me about this one - and provided the text quote.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Snow Crash
  More Ideas and Technology by Neal Stephenson
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