Ray Bradbury said, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as though you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
I love that quote. And I am tempted to whole-heartedly agree. Except video games are “dreams” made in factories, and I love video games, at least the great ones like Zelda and Skyrim. When I play them, I sometimes feel like I am “stuffing my eyes with wonder.” Is there really such a sharp divide between human-made wonders and what we consider real life? If architecture or other art can be wonderful, why not virtual worlds? Even if the games are made in factories, it is still people who make the creative decisions. And sometimes those decisions are “fantastic.”
My fascination with virtual reality is part of what inspired my new Kindle e-book, The Dragon-Proofed House. Just released, it is a blend of fantasy and science fiction that allowed me to indulge my fascination with virtual reality while also asking the question, “Can virtual reality ever be an adequate substitute for real life?” My main character Christine decides that it is better than her tragic real life, so she forsakes the real world completely for a game set in a dragon-infested town called Mirror Mountain Valley.
Here is the Amazon blurb:
They say there’s no place like home, but in Mirror Mountain Valley, they say there’s no home that’s safe from the randomized dragon attacks… except, of course, for a chosen few.
After suffering impossible losses, Christine willingly gives up her real life and even her memories to plug in full-time to an immersive virtual world where life is beautiful. The rules here are simple: gain currency, build the most beautiful house you can, and try to win a prestigious award which will allow your incredible dream home to be dragon-proofed, safe forever from the vicious and unpredictable attacks of the great dragon Cipher. Whenever the fire-breathing dragon comes along, houses crumble to dust and the owners are left behind to roam the virtual world as disconnected, bodiless spirits.
If Christine’s house can be worthy of being dragon-proofed, maybe that strange, ghostly little boy will stop haunting the edges of her vision. Maybe she can finally be free of whatever past she’s tried to bury and live happily ever after.
The only catch is the award is voted on by the elite previous winners, and their tastes are… extremely particular. Christine wants this award more than anything, but in order to make her house appealing to the winners, she has to sacrifice everything she finds appealing about it herself.
But hey – it could be worse… couldn’t it? At least it’s better than the real world.
I do not want to reveal too much, so I will stop there. But I will say the adventure is around 50 pages and it is the third installment of my Torn Curtain series of eBooks. The feedback I have gotten so far has been promising. One reader wrote to me:
It was amazing. My first thought was fantasy, yet the dragon was a philosopher, so real hard truth was there also. The mix works. I loved Christine and her strength. I loved the fantasy/realism of a darned good story. THANK YOU!
Another reader left a thoughtful review on his blog which I deeply appreciate. I have included a link to it here. In it he revealed that he could relate to my protagonist Christine because she had endured personal tragedy and he had also experienced loss.
Although I hate to think any of my readers experienced anything close to what Christine did, I love discovering how my stories change from reader to reader. It reminds me that my stories are not “fixed” once I have written them. When readers take up the story they complete it by transforming my narrative. They bring to it their memories, world views, and personal frames of reference. For that reason, no story I write will be exactly the same for any two readers and that is fascinating to me.
Thanks to my readers for “completing” my stories in ways I will never know! You have no idea how much I appreciate you! Have a happy Halloween and try to stay away from dragons. Unless of course they want to talk philosophy with you. In that case it might be wise to listen. Dragons are old. Their wings take them far and wide. They know things. And they are not always what they seem.