Virtual reality has long been the stuff of fiction–from the Holodeck in Star Trek, the holograms in Star Wars, to the Matrix itself. Then several months ago Niantic released the game Pokemon Go, representing the first time that normal people could experience virtual reality for themselves. I mean, yeah the Oculus Rift and Google Glass are a thing, but let’s face it, they aren’t something that the vast majority of us get to play with.
A bunch of my friends and I have all jumped on the Pokemon Go train. (I’m a level 22 Mystic, and Mike is a level 25 instinct. He claims that makes me a traitorous blueberry.) It’s been fun so far, and has taught me a lot about some of the hidden landmarks in my own neighborhood.
When I started playing Pokemon Go, the game got me thinking about some of my favorite books that incorporate the idea of virtual reality. Here are a few of them, with links to full reviews. What are some of your favorite books about virtual reality?
Digital Rapture is a fiction anthology about the singularity, or the point where mankind is made obsolete by our robot overlords. Many of the stories in the collection explore the concepts like virtual reality, computer simulations, and artificial intelligence.
Fools War is a story about an artificial intelligence that becomes sentient. It doesn’t know what’s happening, so it is scared, angry, and very dangerous. The protagonist is a Muslim woman who is a space captain, which adds a fascinating element of balancing faith and career while also trying to save the world.
Love Minus Eighty takes place in a futuristic world where most people view the world through a layer of virtual reality. The protagonist is a man named Rob who falls in love with a woman who was in a fatal accident, but whose consciousness was salvaged. The process of getting a new body is extremely expensive, so is financed through a sort of “speed dating” where people whose consciousness has been saved are resurrected for a few minutes to hope to convince someone to sponsor them, much like the concept of a mail-order bride.
Silently and Very Fast is a novella told from the point of view of an artificial intelligence who becomes sentient. Much of the story takes place within the virtual reality dreamscape of her mind as she reminisces about her past. Valente’s prose is absolutely stunning.