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Simulacron-3: 09/09/09

A Preamble:

Simulacron-3 is one of about a hundred books I've had for as long as I've been a serious reader. When I got bitten by the reading bug back in 1987 I started to collect books by two criteria: they had to be affordable and they had to be hard to come by. Rather than spend my babysitting money on the then popular books, I tended to go for old books and ones I had never heard of.

As I was collecting the books, often paying a dime or quarter for each, I was also reading books for school and working my way through the library's collection of science fiction and mysteries. In other words, my shelf devoted to my books quickly filled up and I read maybe a percentage of them.

About ten years after I bought Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye my husband and I went to see a fun science fiction film, 0767821629?The Thirteen Floor. Now I'm normally a compulsive reader of credits but I did not catch Simulcron-3 mentioned as the source material. If I had, I probably wouldn't have even remembered that I owned the book. So the book remained unread and stashed with my original 100.

Five years later I decided to register my original 100 with the hope of finally reading them and releasing the books I didn't want to read again or didn't think my husband or children wanted to read. A Bookcrossing friend contacted me shortly after I had registered the book and asked to borrow it, pointing out the connection to The Thirteen Floor. After I got over my surprise I found the book and sent it to her.

Five more years and I have finally read it. Most of my reading commitments are now finished and I have been enjoying a year of reading mostly what I want. Part of that reading for fun is to finally go through that original 100.

The review:
Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye begins as a murder mystery set in a computer lab. But it quickly embraces its science fiction setting to explore philosophical notions of reality, consciousness and soul. The title is a pun on "simulacrum" meaning the representation of something often intangible (such as a God). The "crum" has become cron (short for chronograph jobs). The "3" hints at the three levels of reality that Douglas Hall becomes aware of as his own life is endangered.

Things go awry for Douglas Hall when fellow researcher Morton Lynch goes missing and then another colleague, Hannon Fuller is murdered. Hall finds himself accused of both crimes but he has no memory of having committed any crime.

The clues to solving the murders come though from Rien Reactions marketing research based simulator, the Simulacron-3. The ways in which Hall and the other researchers can interact with the Units who "live" in their pre-programmed city would witness the sorts of odd inconsistencies in their reality as the researchers enter and leave the simulation or reprogram the world to try different situations.

As Douglas Hall begins to think he too might be a Unit in a simulation that has gotten so real as to mimic the building of a simulator like that of the real world the book really takes off. I think all my years of playing different Sim games made the book all the more perversely enjoyable. Douglas ends up trying to hide from the creator of the simulator and has the whole world trying to kill him.

My favorite quote from the book comes on page 108: "I couldn't dismiss the incongruity implicit in the need of an immaterial being for immaterial food." It brought to mind a fun evening of Sim torture while playing B00166N6SA?The Sims.

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