- Mass Market Paperback
- ASIN: B000TB5VAY
- Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.4 x 1.3 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,757,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Simulacron-3. Mass Market Paperback – 1964
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The book opens with Doug Hall attending a party given by his boss, Walter Siskin. Hall has just been promoted to replace his dead friend and mentor at Reactions, Inc., which is developing a new simulation to evaluate consumer reactions. The simulation is populated by virtual people who are exposed to advertisements and such, their reactions analyzed. Siskin sinisterly wishes to use this simulation for political purposes -- he believes that he will be able to control the country if he can predict voter response to various approaches. Siskin is opposed by the Reaction Monitors group -- a seemingly ubiquitous group of pollsters, who will be put out of business by the new sim. Hall is made uneasy by Siskin's political ambitions, himself.
Then Hall starts to notice some strange things. His mentor's notes contained what appeared to be a cryptic message to him, which disappeared. He remembers some other colleagues that nobody else can recall in any way. A psychiatrist friend thinks he's mad. His mentor's beautiful daughter seems to run hot and cold with him -- and to be very concerned about his crazy ideas. And what about the time they drove out of the city and all of a sudden the road just stopped with nothing beyond?
It's no big surprise what's going on even without the references I've given to DARK CITY and THE MATRIX. Hall and all the people he knows are themselves virtual creations in a simulated world. Much of the resistance to his simulation efforts is orchestrated from the "real world" (or is it?), which doesn't want to lose its Reaction Monitors, the real reason for the simulation. Hall finds himself traveling "down" to his simulated world, and encountering (sometimes sadistic) evidence of someone from the "real" world taking over his brain. It's mostly pretty well handled, and the questions raised are interesting. The resolution is perhaps just a bit too convenient, too much fulfilling of wishes. The characters are mostly fairly stock. Still, a fine story.
The tale is wound up, then released to wind its way through an unbelievably bizarre world, dragging the reader with it. The mind-bending 'twist' at the end may leave the reader briefly disoriented.
It is one of the really good computer-world stories from a time when this device was still a mystical mechanism.
Simulacron-3 is up there with the movie, "Colossus: The Forbin Project."
Buddhism maintains that nothing is real, that flux is all there is, that constant change is what we think of as reality, and that even the sense of self we all experience is an illusion. Is Douglas Hall real? Is he an illusion?