Consider this the ultimate starter pack a Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Reality in literature. No doubt, we will see many more to come. In these five books virtual reality is a core element in the storyline, not just a bonus add-on.
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The world is on havoc, we’ve run out of resources, the planet is a mess... but who cares if we have a virtual reality called OASIS? Most of us spend our time in the OASIS, where you can be anything you want to be. Without giving out spoilers the story revolves around kids hunting for a real-life / virtual treasure left in the virtual world by its creator. If we can trust Hollywood, Spielberg will make a movie on this in 2017. BUY IT on Amazon
2. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
It was written in 1992, in the age of the dial-up. Snow Crash’s story sets in a dystopian universe where state governments no longer exist, and anarcho-capitalist independent city states compete with massive corporations. And there’s the Metaverse, Snow Crash’s virtual reality, the future of the Internet as Stephenson imagined. A virtual world where people interact with each other via avatars. The story involves virtual and real-life altering drug, the Snow Crash, and virtual meta-societies patronised by real life benefactors. BUY IT on Amazon
3. Idoru by William Gibson
Idoru is a virtual entity inhabiting the virtual world. The book is a love story with a singer falling in love with a virtual pop idol. It revolves around the concept of nanotechnology, a virtual hacker community called “Walled City”, and if you can indeed feel love towards a virtual being - which made the movie Her highly successful. BUY IT on Amazon
4. For The Win by Cory Doctorow
It wasn’t the first book featuring virtual reality, but it was definitely one of the pioneers dwelling into the concept of virtual economy. The story is about virtual currency hunters aka gold-farmers, virtual reality Ponzi schemes, macroeconomics and labor rights. It's an exceptionally good read for anyone who is interested in the virtual economy, or got hijacked by the current topics of sharing economy. BUY IT on Amazon
5. The Maze Of Death by Philip K. Dick
This is one of the less-known Dick novels, but this is one of the few exploring the concept of religion in virtual reality. The storyline starts with space colonists on a planet called Delmark-O, in the far distant future. In this universe people can communicate with their gods directly through virtual reality. Prayers can be transmitted and amplified through virtual reality, a vehicle for faith and religion. This is a PKD novel, so you shouldn't expect a positive outcome of course; but this is a fascinating piece exploring the difference between perception and reality. BUY IT on Amazon
Is there a book you miss? What are your favourites?