Gene Michael Stover (firstname.lastname@example.org)
created Friday, 2022 March 25
updated Sunday, 2022 May 31
original at https://cybertiggyr.com/m1d2g.html
My own list of stories about being in a simulated reality &, usually for much of the story, someone doesn't realize it.
|P||E||Plato||375 BC||Allegory of the cave|
|C||EC||Daniel F. Galouye||1964||Simulacron-3|
|?||C||E||c1ibl||1976||Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin|
|?||C||E||rt2yp||legion||1984+||That scene in many cyberpunk stories|
|C||EC||p51q0||198?||Star Trek TNG episode|
|I||E||bwn0v||1995||Sorcerer Hunters 13 Between Dreams and Reality|
|P||E||Peter Weir||1998||The Truman Show|
|I||E||Richard Matheson & Vincent Ward||1998||What Dreams May Come|
|C||EC||Josef Rusnak||1999||The Thirteenth Floor|
|?||C||C||Erik Svedang||2015||Else Heart.Break()|
Each row in the table shows a book, movie, computer game, or philosophical allegory. I'll group all these forms into “story”.
The columns are...
Why did we we got so many movies that deal with the topic in a 3-year span in the 1990s? Did another story, one I've overlooked, put the seed of the idea in the consciousness of movie creators, maybe in the early 1990s, & all those movie makers produced their interpretations of it from 1997..1999?
The concept seems related to breaking the 4th wall, a technique of Modern art. Maybe that's not fundamental to the idea of a simulated world. Maybe it's part of how interesting stories are built on that idea.
Here are details & explanations about some of the stories in the list.
Possibly doesn't belong in the list because nobody is being fooled by an unreal world that's presented as real, & it's only a minor part of the story.
During the story, the Doctor & another Time Lord play a cat-&-mouse game within “The Matrix” (yes, so called before the 1999 movie, before Neuromancer). Nobody is fooled into thinking it's the real world, though for a while, the Doctor is prevented from logging out.
There are comments in the story that the minds of every Time Lord is copied into their Matrix before death, though we don't see the personalities of those minds in operation, don't see any evidence that they are in operation at all.
As you play the game, you realize that the game world is stored in a computer that's also in the game. Another interpretation is that a computer in the game world can edit the game world, & the conceptual interface it presents is that of a database.
Possibly doesn't belong on the list. The virutal worlds are in dreams, & nobody is being fooled except that, of course, most dreamers are unaware that they are in a dream. That's not an attempt to fool them; it's how dreams work.
Unlike most of the stories on the list, the big reveal isn't that we're in an unreal world; it's that “you can do anything in here”. That led me to practice lucid dreaming regularly in my teens & twenties.
Many cyberpunk stories contain a scene in which our hero spends some time in a virtual reality construct without being certain that it is a virtual reality construct.
In some ways, this is misclassified, but it's useful to contrast it with the entries that belong on the list.
The difference between this entry & the stories that belong on the list directly might be in how the virtual world is presented to the reader (or the movie's viewer). In “that scene”, it's small & a diversion from the “real world”. It's a temporary hallucination for an individual person.
There's an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which our heroes ask the ship computer to create a story in which Commander Data can take the role of Sherlock Holmes in an adventure with a villain who is capable of presenting a challenge to Commander Data.
I forget the name of the episode & don't give enough of a shit to look it up.
The computer creates a variation of Moriarty who eventually figures out that he is a construct in the holodeck. He blackmales the crew into letting him out. Their solution is to make it appear that he exits, but she actually built that into the program & transferred the program to a stand-alone computer (the size of a paper-weight) that contained a large enough, detailed enough virtual world to provide the artificial, virtual Moriarty a lifetime of experiences.
It's both an elegant solution & a way of fooling someone about being in a virtual world, but doing it to help everyone, both the fooled person & people outside of the simulated world.
This is an episode of the Sorcerer Hunters anime, not the manga. It first aired on 1995 December 26.
The film is interesting in the perspective of this list.
In the world of the film, the NPCs in video games can be almost self-aware. A game programmer goofs, & one of the NPCs in his new game does become self-aware, is pained by the realization that, not only is he a character in a game, but his role in the game dooms him to a violent death regularly.
This is very very probably misclassified & just me, but...
When I played the Xenosaga games, I kept getting the feeling that their entire civilization, maybe their whole galaxy, was in a simulation & they knew it. The civilization just accepted it, didn't bother to dwell on it. Maybe they constructed it.
Features of Xenosaga that gave me that feeling included...
Probably just me, but that's how I saw it.
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