This science fiction novella is a work of speculative fiction set in the year 2030 that explores the breathtaking advances—and potentially deadly consequences—of cutting edge gaming systems that feature simulated reality.
When Washington, D. C. detective Mike Thompson is gravely injured in the line of duty, it falls on his eldest son, Ben—a sixth grade teacher—to watch over his little brother Jake while their father is in a coma battling for his life. Both brothers are hardcore gamers, and they are ecstatic to learn that Sony is releasing a revolutionary entertainment system called the Imaginarium, a “next gen” platform that makes it possible to participate in various MMORPG games and have it be fully immersive and a complete sensory experience. With the use of the Imaginarium headset, players can touch the scales on a dragon, smell its breath, feel the wind against their faces, etc.
Escaping into this mind-blowing new reality is a welcome respite—especially when they discover they can communicate with their comatose father while he is wearing a headset! But when a terrorist organization finds a way to manipulate the system and endanger millions of Americans, this new virtual reality turns into a potential death trap.
The concept of simulated reality in gaming is certainly nothing new—Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One immediately comes to mind—and this examination into the subject is superficial at best. The author offers readers only a cursory look into a few cliché environments and doesn’t explore the potentially mind-blowing medical, spiritual, and societal implications of being able to communicate with comatose patients through VR.
Furthermore, the writing style is often lacking, as in a sequence where the Imaginarium is being showcased at a conference. Here, the writing falls well short of describing the breathtaking realm: “Various monsters are seen doing their normal living.”
Coupled with bizarre plot twists, and a head-scratcher of an ending, this is ultimately a disappointing reading experience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.