Recently I got caught up in “Ready Player One,” Ernest Cline’s videogame-centric science fiction novel with oodles of 1980s references and trivia.
The fast-paced story alternates between reality, in a near-future 2044, and the virtual reality universe where most people work and play, called the Oasis.
Inside the Oasis, avatars go to school and work, go shopping, acquire weapons and treasure, fight battles, and make friends and enemies. Many people prefer the Oasis to the real world, which is overpopulated and polluted.
Then the creator of the Oasis dies and leaves his fortune to whoever can solve the puzzle he built into the game – and the worldwide race is on. Everyone becomes obsessed with winning the prize, especially an evil corporation that wants to take over the Oasis and change it from a free worldwide service into a controlled and profitable empire.
Actually, this doesn’t seem too unrealistic. That’s the thing about science fiction – it’s almost reality, right there on our horizon.
For example, the new Google Glass is a way to see the real world alongside the Internet, further blurring the line between virtual life and real life. There are already news stories about security issues with Google Glass, not to mention the ease of filming people, places or events without obviously holding a camera.
Maybe I’ve read too much science fiction, but I could see this all going in a scary direction. Government surveillance, hackers, identity theft. When do we all get implanted with computer chips and hooked to a constant stream of news and ads like in the young adult novel “Feed”?
Now I’ve got the creeps. Excuse me while I go read something warm and fuzzy.
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