4 out of 4 stars
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The Reality Games by Tom Reissmann is a science fiction novel that explores the nature of our reality. In 2061, the developments in artificial intelligence enabled humanity to solve many problems, from climate change to the fight against diseases. However, there are nations where people felt that artificial intelligence might end up enslaving humans, so they formed a coalition where that kind of technology got banned. World peace is threatened when mysterious incidents involving vehicles driven by artificial intelligence start happening. History professor Max Wheeler is contacted by a leader of the anti-AI faction who wants to convince him that what we think is reality is a simulation.
The idea that what we perceive as our reality might be a simulation or some other kind of illusion has become quite common in science fiction. It was a central theme in many works written by Philip K. Dick. It became very popular after the release of the movie The Matrix and its sequels. This hypothesis even led to scientific research to try to find evidence to prove it or disprove it.
This novel explores the idea that our universe might be a simulation in the story of a history professor who finds himself at the center of events that have global repercussions. Max Wheeler isn't involved in politics, but he's a bit of a star as his lectures are watched by millions of people in virtual reality around the world. His wife believed that our universe is a simulation and, when she took her own life, it was considered the consequence of her mental unbalance. Max had a synthetic, an android that appears very similar to a human, created to mimic his wife's personality. That led their daughter, Olivia, to turn against him.
The story's developments are rooted in quantum physics. Some concepts are explained in simple terms as they get explained to characters who are not scientists such as Max Wheeler, so readers don't need to have a deep knowledge in this field to read this novel. Some concepts are more philosophical, some others are explained as part of some kind of game.
The explanations of bits of quantum physics to characters who are not scientists is a way to enable the readers to understand those concepts. However, I have to say that the one thing I didn't like about this novel is that sometimes I think there was too much exposition to explain quantum phenomena. I think some explanations became overlong going beyond the phenomena included in the novel's plot.
My complaint is a minor one as I found most of the book intriguing and thought-provoking. Reflections are offered through the characters about the nature of reality, the nature of consciousness, artificial intelligence, and more. In part they're based on scientific research, others are more philosophical, including the ones concerning the nature of the human mind. The plot includes action, but its strongest part is in the food for thought it offers. That's what I liked the most about this novel because it mixes science, philosophy, and fiction in a way I found stimulating and balanced. Its protagonists offer a variety of points of view, with diverse ideas and choices.
The novel includes many instances of profanity and mentions of sexual activities. Also considering the complexity of its themes, it seems suitable for adult readers. It's professionally edited as I found only a couple of errors. It has a plot full of twists, and I found the themes stimulating. For these reasons, I'm happy to rate it 4 out of 4 stars. If you're looking for a novel about the nature of reality and humanity that also shows a possible future for the world, The Reality Games is a must-read.
The Reality Games
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