I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Simulations by John Forelli
Published by the author (self-published) on April 20th 2015
Genres: Adult fiction, Science fiction
Source: ARC from publisher
Buy on Amazon
When Ray Ality arrives for a job interview at Simulations Inc. he's immediately drawn to Delilah, the cute receptionist. Only one problem: she's engaged.
Ray soon concocts a plan to win Delilah over, as he and his new, eccentric coworker Bob use the company's software in an attempt to simulate the process of courting her. Ray soon discovers that the simulations aren't exactly what he expected, and as he sinks deeper into virtual reality it becomes harder to distinguish real life from the imaginary.
This novel is Office Space meets The Matrix--an existential discourse told among keyboards and cubicles.
This book was really good! Although a bit confusing at the end, it’s a really interesting story.
Mainly it’s about Ray’s awkward attempts to win over a receptionist at his new job. He does this mostly through simulations that end up getting repetitive. I kept waiting for him to realize that he really didn’t have enough reason to try to get her away from her fiancée anyway and that he should probably just let her go. I mean, what makes him so special? He barely knows her, and he’s already planning to basically destroy her relationship with her intended. Seemed kinda selfish to me. Especially when he risks so much just to work out the simulations, which end up being useless, in my opinion…
But it was really about the journey, and it was quite an existential one. That was the part I really enjoyed. It was told in an interesting way, through the character of Bob, who is immature and honestly, disgusting. But somehow that made it easier to understand/accept what he was talking about when he suddenly decided to wax philosophical. It wasn’t even annoying how gross and childish he was- it was just intriguing how ironic he was as a character. By being a lazy gross bump-on-a-log who played video games all day, he was making a subtle statement about reality itself, which came back to the ultimate message of this novel: Life/reality is what you make it.
At one point he makes a reference to one of my favorite lines in Harry Potter: “It’s happening in my head, but why should that mean it isn’t real?” I think this is one of the bigger questions that is explored in the novel. A lot of the book takes place in an alternate reality, a simulated one, but it felt real to Ray. And each person was inherently living in his/her own reality and that’s why each of the characters was defined so clearly- they were all contrasting each other.
Another point that Bob brought up was about artificial intelligence/consciousness. He asked how we knew that characters in video games weren’t aware of themselves and that they didn’t have consciousness, and he asked the same about computers. How do we know that they don’t have consciousness somewhere? That the creator didn’t program it in somewhere? That consciousness can’t be programmed? How do we know that they haven’t simply been keeping it a secret from us? So many unanswerable questions, but they raise a good point about consciousness and self-awareness. Everyone’s reality is different, and it doesn’t matter if it’s virtual reality or not. Reality is what you make it. If your reality is sitting playing the Sims, having your character play in the pool all day, then your reality might as well be playing in the pool all day. If it gives you the same satisfaction, well…that’s that, then, isn’t it?
“It reminds me of that feeling you get the exact moment you fall asleep, when you bridge two realities but inhabit neither, looking down into an uncanny valley where dreams are the realest thing in the world.”
I’ve always been fascinated by dreams and dream logic. It’s so interesting how dreams differ- and overlap with- reality. I’ve reached the point personally where I usually know when I’m dreaming, but that doesn’t stop my dreams from mirroring life in a strangely accurate way. It’s sometimes as if I’m living out alternate realities in my dreams. And I believe that during sleep, dreams are the reality. That’s all there is. Why do we dream, anyway? Is that just the mind’s way of letting off steam while we recharge, or is it something else? Is it an exploration of the ‘what-if’s, the ‘what-could-be’s? Or maybe even ‘what is’? I’ve had dreams that have shown me truths before, things I wouldn’t know in my waking life. It’s really strange to think about.
“The next one is a man who could most aptly be described as a cardboard box with limbs attached.”
Onto the less introspective aspects of this book. I loved the humor. I would never expect it, but then- bam! I’d be cracking up. This happened on several occasions. The story was told well. And his descriptions were great- tons of analogies and metaphors. His descriptions of people were the best. They really painted a picture, usually a humorous one. It was a captivating story and I was able to read it all in one sitting. It’s not the most satisfying plot-wise, but it raises a lot of good questions. It’s more of a thinking book than anything else.
reaction upon finishing
??? what just happened there
this book in one word