Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Finding hidden meanings in science fiction

I’m almost done with the edits of the Welcome to the Apocalypse trilogy. And the theme is quite evident when you read all 3 books. The theme is: consequences.

Book 1 starts out as an entertaining story about 3 characters who join in on the launch of a new virtual reality game, and they have to survive 24 hours of an apocalypse. But something happens on the outside and they become stuck in the game. They have to keep playing, advancing through the games, until they’re rescued or their simulation pods fail.
 
Imagine you’re stuck in a world where anything goes. Do you apply the ‘anything goes’ moniker, or do you uphold the same values you uphold in the real world?

This is the core theme behind this series. I have to admit, I copped flak from some readers who wanted Book 1 to be a giant 'kill fest'. However, this was full immersion into a virtual world where players were faced with monster or environments that wanted them dead, and they had to fight to stay alive. And here's the kicker: this wasn't a video game with digital looking characters. This virtual world was as real as your surroundings.
 
 
In Book 2, the characters are rescued and taken to a facility to recover. There they have to deal with the deaths of some friends, and face that the outside world isn’t what it used to be, and it’s forever changed. Now all they want to do is get home. The story is no longer just a fun read, it’s a shift in balance for some players. Money no longer matters, nor does rank or title or gender. It's first come first served in the evacuation sites. They're still faced with consequences of their actions, even though in a world with no or few rules, can there be consequences?  

 
In Book 3, the survivors now have to make it home and find their place in this new world. And here the theme of consequence is once more evident. The characters' journey is over. Can they live with what they did in order to survive?

It might not seem a big deal, because none of this is real. Right? It's fiction. Science fiction at that.


Science fiction does not predict, it tells of the world as is it RIGHT NOW.

RIGHT NOW, there are sex dolls being built in Japan. Right now there are life-sized, real-life looking dolls (I'm betting only female dolls) being pushed around in wheelchairs by men whose wives don't want to have sex with them anymore. They're also working on designing sex robots and there is already a brothel of sex dolls.

Some would argue there's a therapeutic aspect to this type of doll or robot. Some might smirk that whatever they do behind closed doors is their business. And most of all, we'd remind ourselves that dolls and robots are not sentient beings. So what does it matter?

It’s been proven that humans give non-sentient objects their humanity. The video of a Boston Dynamics robot being pushed and kicked and bullied sent people into a frenzy. And this robot doesn't even LOOK human. How are we going to react when we see this same sort of bullying done to a robot or doll that has a life-like face?


 
And whose face are they using anyway?


RIGHT NOW, there are CGI experts who can super impose anybody's face into a porn film.

RIGHT NOW, there are companies working on full immersion virtual reality.

RIGHT NOW, we are going to have start thinking of any consequences we might face when it comes to non-sentient activities in human form.

Science is ever evolving, and scientists often apply the same philosophical question common in many science fiction novels. Can we do a particular thing? Yes. Should we do a particular thing? 


Can we create robots for sexual pleasure? Yes. But should we? Because if sex with a non-sentient being has no consequences, then can we also create sex dolls for sexual deviants. Yes, we can. But should we?

Can we super impose someone's face into a porn film in order to fulfil a fantasy? Yes. But should we?
 
Welcome to the Apocalypse started out as an adventure. As I finalise Book 3, I realize that I have asked my characters to consider the consequences of their actions inside the virtual world, as well as in an apocalyptic world where there are no rules. I've asked them to uphold their values which on a basic level is ludicrous really. Fiction is about escapism. And yet I can’t help feeling that a 'kill fest' book isn’t escapism at all. It’s too close to the real thing.

If you want to find out anything more about this trilogy, please click on the links or head to my website www.dlrichardson.com



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