Thursday, 30 July 2009

Colonizing Virtual Reality

This quote from Neuromancer is invariably cited by VR proponents as an inspiration for the new technology.23 Virtual reality had its origin to a great extent in the imagination of science fiction writers and readers. The ideas of hyperspace from Star Wars, transporter beams from Star Trek, cyberspace from Gibson, and many others were familiar fantasies. Science fiction is often a critical and oppositional fictional form, however. The ostensibly alien setting licences writers to discuss contemporary social issues without referring directly to what they criticize. Sci fi often presents dystopic visions of alienation and struggle against impossible problems. Extending the consequences of social trends can be more incisive than overt criticism. Sci fi in its critical mode can show that things perceived as natural and normal are in fact cultural constructs. Neuromancer was intended as social criticism, rather than prediction. As Gibson himself says it is not really a prediction at all:
Colonizing Virtual Reality
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