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review 2016-08-04 22:45
Book Review of Automaton by C.L. Davies
Automaton - C.L. Davies

In the not too distant future, after the huge successes of role-playing games, virtual worlds and reality shows, it was only a matter of time before somebody went too far. Welcome to Gameworld, a remote island with a population unaware that they exist only to entertain players. People's lives are dictated by their 'owners' and broadcast around the clock and around the globe. It's the world's biggest game and the stakes keep increasing. Dean 3012 is a good guy living on the Island with his girlfriend, Lily. With a baby on the way, life is perfect. But when things take a sinister turn, the couple are plunged into a world of darkness. In the real world, Lily's owner Amelia is more than a watcher of the game. Obsessed with Lily's happiness beyond reason, Amelia will threaten anyone - real or virtual - in a misguided effort to protect her. Dean must somehow find a way to gain self-determination and fight for all their lives, even if it means discovering that his life isn't real.

 

Review 4*

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

 

This is a very interesting story. I really enjoyed it.

 

Dean and Lily are interesting characters. They are characters who live in a virtual reality game, though they do not know this. In their world, they are living their own lives and are unaware of the outside world who watch them with close scrutiny. When Dean's owner sends a new instruction, it creates a ripple affect and lives are changed forever.

 

I have been wanting to read this book for some time. However, due to my rather large reading list, I have only recently been able to do so.

 

I started to read this book and was quickly hooked. In a way, this story reminded me of the computer game The Sims. It also reminded me of two movies: The Truman Show and Westworld. The author has taken a look at the "what if" scenario of what consists of virtual reality. If we lived in a game, would we know? And, if we did, what we do to survive? However, she has also explored the darker side of obsession, in this case Lily's 'owner', Amelia. Amelia is possessive and protective of Lily and when Dean's owner throws a spanner in the works by making him do something that threatens Dean's and Lily's relationship, Amelia becomes bent on revenge. What follows is a chilling tale that made me rather uncomfortable. So much so that I had to put the book down on more than one occasion. It has a very dark undertone that unsettled me. However, I had to keep reading in order to find out what was happening next.

 

This story is told through various points of view, which, although this gave the reader a broader understanding on what was going on, also caused confusion as I struggled to remember which characters were in the game and who was in the real world.
James Madison is the creator of Gameworld and the characters within it. Although he is only in a few scenes, I did like him even though I don't think he sees the characters he creates as real. He doesn't have an emotional connection to them and is a businessman through and through. However, the public love his Gameworld and have created an emotional bond with their characters. It is the modern equivalent of watching a television soap opera or Big Brother and the viewers developing feelings for the characters, though also having control of the characters' themselves. Scary!

 

My only complaint is that I struggled to form an emotional attachment to the majority of characters. The only one I felt anything for was Dean. This made it extremely difficult for me when I reached the end of the book, as I was left slightly disappointed in the way it concluded. However, other readers may have a different experience to myself.

 

C.L. Davies has written an interesting science fiction novel that takes a chilling look at virtual reality games and what can happen when it becomes all too real for those who live in them and for them. I enjoyed her fast paced writing style, though felt that the flow was somewhat compromised by having too many characters. Nevertheless, I would consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

Due to scenes of violence, I do not recommend this book for younger readers. However, I recommend this book if you love science fiction or horror genres. - Lynn Worton

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text 2016-03-31 23:01
Wirtualna rzeczywistość wkracza do e-czytania [prima aprilis]

Zainteresowałem się koreańskim rynkiem czytników przy okazji poszukiwania przyszłego modelu czytników marki inkBook. Trafiłem przy okazji na ciekawy wpis koreańskiej blogerki 강소라 zajmującej się technologiami mobilnymi. Otóż wpadła ona na trop nowatorskiego pomysłu koreańskiego start-upu Virtual Books (kor. 가상 도서), wpisującego się w tak modny ostatnio trend rzeczywistości wirtualnej. Czy jest to szansa również na ożywienie rynku e-książki, podobnie jak to będzie na rynku gier 3D?

 

Google Cardboard - czy to przyszłość e-czytania? (źródło: https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/)

 

Na czym polega pomysł? Idea jest prosta i nawiązuje do Google Cardboard. Ekran małego i taniego wyświetlacza (telefonicznego) dzielony jest na dwie części. Każde oko otrzymuje trochę odmienny obraz, co tworzy wrażenie otaczającej użytkownika trójwymiarowej rzeczywistości. Do stworzenia wirtualnego obrazu w wykonaniu Koreańczyków nie służy jednak w tym przypadku androidowy telefon a czytnik książek elektronicznych!

 

Na razie blogerka z Korei nie mogła uzyskać od inżynierów z 가상 도서 informacji o udostępnieniu ich technologii szerszej publiczności. Przyczyna jest prosta, Koreańczycy wykorzystali m.in. dwie nieudokumentowane, ale istniejące już możliwości tkwiące niejako w czytnikach Kobo. Brak więc potwierdzenia, ale są jednak na ich temat bardzo konkretne poszlaki. Pierwszy trop prowadzi przez opcję zaawansowanych ustawień menu "Font Settings" czytników Kobo. Oficjalnie są to ustawienia poprawiające czytelność tekstu, ale podział ekranu na dwie sekcje, które osobno dla każdego oka wyświetlają obraz jednoznacznie nasuwa skojarzenia z okularami 3D! Wystarczy się o tym przekonać, wpatrując się intensywnie raz jednym, raz drugim okiem w dwie sekcje przykładowego tekstu na zrzucie ekranu poniżej. Można do tego celu oczywiście użyć również oryginalnego czytnika Kobo.

 

Wygląd sekcji "Advanced" w ustawieniach wyświetlania tekstu ("Font Settings") czytnika Kobo Glo HD

 

Drugi trop prowadzi do pliku konfiguracyjnego czytników Kobo. Pisałem o niektórych możliwościach z tym związanych, przy okazji artykułu "Jak zainstalować własny słownik w czytniku Kobo - poradnik". Ja już korzystam np. z opcji "FullScreenReading", ale przypominam, że każda samodzielna zmiana oprogramowania czytnika może być ryzykowna i każdy wykonuje takowe na własną odpowiedzialność. Na razie zdecydowanie odradzam włączanie nieudokumentowanego oficjalnie parametru "CardBoard3DView". Koreańczycy mają ogłosić, kiedy ta zmiana będzie w pełni bezpieczna dla funkcjonowania czytnika.

 

Sekcja "[FeatureSettings]" pliku konfiguracyjnego czytników Kobo może być rozszerzona o nieudokumentowane parametry, prawdopodobnie również "CardBoard3DView"

 

Podsumowanie

Moim zdaniem potrzebne są nowe pomysły na eCzytanie, aby podnieść atrakcyjność słowa pisanego w oczach młodych pokoleń. Słowo pisane zdaje się tracić na atrakcyjności z każdym kolejnym rocznikiem dorastającym w otoczeniu technologii cyfrowych. Może nowa technologia wirtualnych lektur 3D koreańskiej firmy 가상 도서 będzie jednym z elementów zmieniających niekorzystne trendy w czytelnictwie?

 

 

To moja pierwsza przymiarka do szablonu, widać, że dawno nic nie wycinałem szkolnymi nożyczkami... Z zasobów internetowych można już pobrać koreańską wersję szablonu Google Cardboard. 

 

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review 2016-01-30 21:34
Log Horizon vol. 1
Log Horizon, Vol. 1: The Beginning of Another World - Mamare Touno

I must say I picked this one because I had watched (and liked) the anime series, and I would recommend the latter overall. The book tells pretty much the same thing, only it's not as good, even though the themes themselves remain interesting: waking up in the world of your favourite MMORPG, having to make out what happened and to find out how to live from now on, being confronted to rules that make a lot of things redundant... How do you create a functional society in a world where you cannot die, and where going hungry and poor mostly won't happen, since just about anyone can kill a couple of monsters to earh their board and bed for the day? What happens to standard human rules, how do people keep their dignity and not devolve into doing anything they want, bad things included?

The concept and themes are definitely good. However, there isn't any definite plot (it read more as an introduction than as a real story for now), and while the rules of the "Elder Tales" video game are detailed, allowing the reader to easily discover this new world, they're also repeated a little too often. Granted, I'm familiar with MMORPGs, so I don't need their basic concepts to be explained, but I think even a reader who's never gamed doesn't need to be reminded three times how many magic-wielding classes there are, or that Character X is really tiny. It made me wonder if the story had been published as a serial first, with such means being used to, well, remind the reader of previous episodes. All in all, it felt a little repetitive and boring.

I still think "Log Horizon" makes for great world-building and story arcs. I'd however recommend watching the anime instead. It's much more interesting.

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