Tag Archives: dystopia

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.

This is a book with one of the most creative, nerd scifi narratives, exploring the possibilities of virtual reality in a dystopian close future world.

The book follows the story of Wade Watts, a normal teenager fully immersed in a virtual reality called OASIS (a kind of Sims), while the world is slowly decaying around him, economically and politically.

The creator of the OASIS, a multi-billionaire nerd, leaves  his entire fortune and ownership of the programme for the player who manages to pass his in-game trials. Obsessed by the 1980s culture, all trials are related to those years, with music, gaming and movie references. Hence, a 1980s renaissance takes place, billions of players being after this prize, an escape from the dying world around them. The protagonist is one of those seekers.

The seller of illusions

A rival company pours monumental resources with the same purpose of getting the prize and the ownership of this virtual reality. This company slowly develops as the antagonist of the story.

Five years have passed since the creator died and no progress was noticed on the scoreboard towards the prize, a scoreboard available for everyone to see. Until the Wade’s avatar makes the first breakthrough.

The story gradually gains pace. mingled with love, friendship, courage, real life tragedies and perseverance. It is a story that transforms the teenager into a man. It is a kind of a Harry Potter in a dystopian future, but without family references.

The virtual reality, OASIS, looks like a drug, people giving their life and freedom for a world where they can be anything they want to be. The real world is slowly decaying around them, civil duty (like voting) is neglected, allowing some form of slavery to exist. However, the message of the author is that the virtual reality cannot replace the real world: things like a kiss, a touch are unique and cannot to be replicated.

The book is catchy for everyone who played a computer game in their life, so I recommend it as a good reading. I couldn’t put the book down.

(Featured image by Andreas Dantz)

1984 – George Orwell

In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people’s windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.

The book is a classic and I absolutely recommend reading it. Orwell presents a dystopia, where things aren’t what they should be. It’s a grey world, with thoughtcrimes, destruction of critical thinking and individualism, total surveillance, nomenclature and historical revisionism.
Orwell’s dystopia is not an alien concept. Please see the excellent 2008 German movie, Die Welle.

The book pairs with the Brave New World by Huxley, published 2 decades earlier. While the dystopia in the Brave New World is sustained by drugs and distraction, 1984 is a brutal, overwhelming totalitarianism. They are both on the same level of crushing critical thinking and blocking any individual initiative. While they look far apart, they are the same facets of total subjugation, with a privileged few.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, we are heading today to the same level of thoughcrimes described by Orwell and brainwashing mentioned by Huxley. So many on social media make their opinion without looking at the original source and without checking the source.
You can read the book online for free at the following link.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Above them, in ten successive layers of dormitory, the little boys and girls who were still young enough to need an afternoon sleep were as busy as every one else, though they did not know it, listening unconsciously to hypnopædic lessons in hygiene and sociability, in class-consciousness and the toddler’s love-life. Above these again were the playrooms where, the weather having turned to rain, nine hundred older children were amusing themselves with bricks and clay modelling, hunt-the-zipper, and erotic play.Buzz, buzz! the hive was humming, busily, joyfully. Blithe was the singing of the young girls over their test-tubes, the Predestinators whistled as they worked, and in the Decanting Room what glorious jokes were cracked above the empty bottles! But the Director’s face, as he entered the Fertilizing Room with Henry Foster, was grave, wooden with severity.

I read this book as a recommendation from my boss. You can read for free at this link. I was mesmerized, I read the book in just a couple of long nights.

The book was written in 1932, but it seems so contemporaneous, 80 years later. It is a classic, in the same vein as 1984 by George Orwell.

Would you go in a golden cage? Money, sex, drugs, elitism, but no free will. This is the question that Huxley proposes.

Huxley’s writes about a future dystopia, where genetic engineering, recreational sex, drugs, hypnotic messages and brainwashing create a world were everyone thinks is happy. But this world lacks any deep meaning, no family, religion or art. A system of castes, heavily brainwashed, is ingrained in the texture of society.

The system seems to me very Soviet-like, were science is praised, family and religion is destroyed, but economy can only exists through a system of slavery and elites.

Some can see through the veil, as Bernard, and they are given sanctuary or prison, as you like, in some of the isles. The faults of the society are expressed by the life and dialogue of a men called the Savage, born in a so-called reservation and unwilling to bend to the wrong rules and be brainwashed.

I loved the book because it makes you think, it makes you ask questions. How many people make an opinion by just reading a title of news on Facebook? How many people good in the field, pretend with arrogance knowledge in other fields? How many people go to the original source and skip interpretations? How many people filter the information that comes to them?

In my own field, energy, I see people holding strong views, one way or the other, without knowing too much of how the system works.

It is a book recommended for high school reading in many countries. It makes you think.