Published last month, October 2016, SIM is the latest novella by Second Life author Huckleberry Hax. While for instance Huck’s popular AFK-series and Amazing Metaverse (collected short stories) were set in Second life, SIM is not. It is however situated in a Virtual reality, Huck introduced SIM on his own website with this teaser:
‘What if, one day, you woke up inside a virtual reality environment with no memory of your life before. How would you know if it was real?’
The answer to that question is all up to you, as reader!
The 102 page novella is not difficult to read – even for me as a non native English speaker – but then, I find Huck’s writing and style pleasant.
So what if, one day, you woke up inside a virtual reality environment?
It happens to King, the main character, and SIM describes his daily routine and explorations, as much as those are possible – and perhaps even his struggles and pondering.
Interaction with others in his restricted Virtual Reality are limited to the use of a computer, via again: Virtual Reality.
The physical struggle is real, for King, and written in a way I could actually feel it. But that is how I read books, I need to ‘feel’ it, and Huck succeeded in that. I have finished the book over a week ago – after reading it twice (but that is what I do with most books in English, to be sure I have not missed anything important and often the re-reading makes it even more immersive for me).
It is a thought provoking novella, and after a few days of letting it sink in I realised what made it a wonderful, real and yet confusingly unreal story. I first had to let go of the fact SIM is set in a Virtual Reality and even let go of my own experiences in Second Life. Yet, still, SIM felt like something I know all too well: dementia or Alzheimer.
I grew up with my Mom having Alzheimer from a very young age and have seen her losing reality over the course of a couple of years, until she did not remember anything anymore from her ‘before life’.
A world reduced to some square meters, where routine rules and new experiences and meetings are forgotten, often a few minutes after they happen. That is what Huck describes in SIM, for me.
But for any other reader SIM could mean something completely different or maybe even nothing. Isn’t that the beauty of fiction?
You can find links to SIM here on Huck’s website, it is free to download in several formats.