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THE THOUSAND YEAR BEACH giveaway contest

by nickmamatas

We are back, with our latest title, TOBI Hirotaka’s The Thousand Year Beach! A story of a long-abandoned virtual reality environment—think something like a TinyMUD or Second Life, but utterly immersive—facing an invasion from inexplicable outside forces, the book is already getting a bit of a buzz. Subscription box Page Habit has selected The Thousand Year Beach as its June science fiction title and we’re looking to help spread the word further with one of our giveaway contests!

You may know the drill by now: respond to this post with a little essay, anecdote, or poem about your favorite book, comic, film, or videogame that focuses on Virtual Reality. Write it up in English, Japanese, Spanish, German, Chinese, or Greek—we ship anywhere! (But we don’t ready every language, just those listed.) On Friday we’ll pick the four answers we like best and ship out the copies.

Are you ready for some mind-blowing SF that is also a literal “beach book”? Get to commenting!

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11 Responses to “THE THOUSAND YEAR BEACH giveaway contest”

  1. Terre says:

    Infinite Dendrogram is a lot of fun. VRMMO setting where characters are all given their unique “embryo”, a personal item or assistant that evolves + changes form over time with your leveling. The characters all treat the VR world as a real place of possiblities despite it being one of the few stories where characters aren’t trapped in the world.

    Marie, the reporter / Adventurer, is so cool.

  2. Mion says:

    My favourite book about Virtual Reality is the one I haven’t read yet.

    Long story short, a few years ago I met a guy online and we got to talking about books we were reading at that time. He went on and on about this book about Virtual Reality and he got me super interested. But alas, the book has only been published in Russian and for years now, I’ve been lamenting over it. My Russian is nil.

    Nil desperandum though! There are plenty of awesome books out there just waiting to be read.

  3. John Austin says:

    It was a tie for first when it came to my favorite film focused on VR. But in the end, “Avalon” directed by Oshii Mamoru won out. Viewed, often, as mere interstitial entertainment meant to occupy those slavering for a Matrix sequel, I felt it was dramatically underrated. It was overdone, and pastiche in many ways. But it was Oshii Mamoru, directing a film about VR in Poland, starring Poles! Unlike other, I felt the film was ahead of its time. Oshii used his budget for visual effects quite effectively. If you were to transplant them into any other high budget film, audiences would have been mesmerized. The sets which comprised of industrial Warsaw were beautiful and convincing. Malgorzatta Formeniak, a Polish actress was stunning and became a household name, at least in my household. Kenji Kawai, whose soundtrack from Ghost In The Shell, still get’s play in my home, composed the haunting soundtrack for this film. Oshii also told a compelling story. True to form, he presented issues of consciousness, reality, and hit quite cleanly upon the ethereal nature of both. Finally, I believe there was a featurette in which he talked about his dogs. You could just see the amount of crazy it took to generate that kind of genius.

  4. Mike D. says:

    Virtual reality is often seen as an escape from reality to an un-reality where one can be whomever, wherever, or whenever one wants; it’s seen as an idealized reality according to our wishes. The more santimonious may choose a rather more masochistic reality to the point where true hell is their reality; thus, Iain Banks’s Surface Detail (2010) deserves a rightful place among VR greats. Hopefully, the author now lives in his own personal heaven considering the wondrous gift of literature he had bestows upo us prior to his untimely passing away.

  5. Tatiana says:

    I dunno if this is a long shot, but I LOVE The Matrix. Not only is this hands down one of the best Keanu Reeves movie, but I find the various metaphors in the movie to be really applicable. The one I think about the most often are the Agents and how they act as a gatekeepers to The Matrix.

    In the animated short called, The Animatrix, there’s a young boy who discovers the world isn’t real, so the Agents come to his school to arrest him, and he finds freedom from the false reality through suicide. While most people would find that pretty morbid or offensive, it really resonated strongly with my emotional reality of living in this world.

    And when Morpheus tells Neo that they don’t normally free minds past a certain age because they have a hard time letting go THAT really spoke to me. I think a lot about how people hold onto things, even things that are false, because they can’t imagine living without those “truths”. (And it reminds me a lot of how people justify bigoted ideas held by old people by citing their age).

    The Matrix is one of the most amazing movies I’ve seen; I listed it as a virtual reality movie because all the humans are in pods where they seem to be dreaming. The Matrix isn’t real and can only be taped in through specific hardware (like a VR game; like in Ready Player One).

  6. John Austin says:


  7. Jim Rion says:

    I think my favorite in this rather narrow genre would be Tad Williams’ Otherland. In addition to a fairly prescient look at MMORPGs, I was genuinely excited as a linguistically-centered person by the inclusion of Xhosa words, which is likely the only mainstream exposure most Americans will ever have to it.

    I also hold a rather nostalgic fondness for it’s very very 1990s/Matrix take on the ‘Net (Vampires! Little weak kids playing giant, strong barbarians! You die if your connection is broken!).

  8. Benjamin Bauer says:

    My most recent fave in the realm of fiction dealing with virtual reality would probably have to be Surface Detail by the late great Iain M. Banks. In it he runs whole-hog with an idea he introduced in his earlier book Look to Windward. That of different civilizations and factions using virtual reality to create an afterlife for their deceased. A Heaven to upload them to if they led a worthy life. A Hell to send them to if they’re sinners. Of course, this means some Galactic Civs have a quite literal way to control their populaces via fear. Be good and be rewarded. Be bad and burn in digital Hell for subjective eternities. In Surface Detail this has led to a full-blown virtual war over the topic of Hell and whether it’s ethically correct or not. Cheekily dubbed The War in Heaven and fought between a pro-Hell and anti-Hell side. His portrayal of this war is multi-levelled and thrilling, with one particular viewpoint character going through a berserk amount of incarnations over several subjective years, fighting in a myriad of imagined battlefields that range from being videogame-ish to totally alien.

    All the while there’s backdoor dealings about figuring out where the Hells are stored in the Real. And one character ends up trapped in a Hell while the “real” her is awoken and continues to live a normal life. Ace stuff that makes you ponder the implications of high-grade VR and digital consciousness constructs! The kinda ambitious stuff that was Banks’ bread and butter.

  9. n. says:

    I think you shouldn’t confine the concept “virtual reality” to something generated by computers where you plug in yourselves. I also think most people are living inside their own little virtual reality, but that’s beside the point. What is reality anyway?
    That’s where Philip K. Dick comes in (surprise, surprise). Above I wrote about real life people living in their own little virtual reality, but many PDK stories depicts events where people are literally trapped in _other’s_ reality/subconscious. So it is really hard to pick one favourite story. I was hesitating between Eye in the Sky and Ubik and now picking the latter. I’m contradicting myself, because even though the people in the story are after some point indeed somehow plugged in, it’s not a computer program but their consciousness which is/are shaping their shared reality. Which “shape” is constantly shifting and regressing at the same time back to a(n imagined) bygone era.
    You are dead and your mind creates the whole universe for others, what else to ask from life (or death)? Or, maybe the other’s are the dead? Which one is the real reality, again?

  10. Jared says:

    There’s an episode of Philip Dicks’s Electric Dreams called Real Life about a woman who uses vietual reality to take a “vacation” from her stressful job, but her experience implants the idea that her real life is the simulation. It has a somewhat unsettling ending. Among the strongest episodes of the show.

  11. Jason K says:

    It’s hard to forget your first love and for me that means William Gibson’s Neuromancer. It’s one of the books that inspired my lifelong love of SF and my interest in both VR and AI. There’s a reason why even more than 30 years later Neuromancer is held in high regard by those-in-the-know. It was the first book that crystalized in the written word the amazing potential of what a VR environment could mean to the human race, for both good and ill. Neuromancer may not have aged well, I mean, consider the very first line. “The sky was the color of a television set tuned to a dead channel.” These days, that’s blue. And do people even use fax machines anymore? And don’t even get me started about missing the whole ubiquitous cell phone thing with its direct-line-to-the-whole-of-human-knowledge thing. But when human beings remember our first loves, we rarely focus on the flaws and instead, savor the amazing places they took our heart and mind. That’s why I’ll always have a soft spot for the best book on VR: Neuromancer.

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