Neuromancer by William Gibson, 1984
Pioneer of the cyberpunk movement, William Gibson is also the Nostradamus of tech. In his work “Neuromancer” (“Neuromancer” in English), published in 1984, he draws the contours of “cyber space”, which he defines as a “consensual hallucination experienced daily by tens of millions of operators”. We follow the journey of Case, a hacker connected to this virtual space. This pre-metavers blurs the lines between virtual and real, while the earthly world is plagued by the excesses of multinationals. An eminently committed and visionary novel.
“The Virtual Samurai”, by Neal Stephenson, 1992
“Snowcrash” (“The Virtual Samurai” in French) appeared in 1992, in the early days of the Internet. The story focuses on Hiro, a hacker who travels between the real world and the virtual world. This is the first time that a work has used the term “metaverse”. In this dystopia, Hiro lives in a dark container, from which he tries to escape through the virtual world. In the metaverse, social classes are segregated based on the resolution of their avatars, ads are king, and real estate investing pays off big. A premonitory vision?
“Ready Player One”, by Steven Spielberg, 2018
Adapted from the eponymous book by Ernest Cline published in 2011, the film “Ready Player One” was directed by Steven Spielberg in 2018. The story is set in 2045, in a post-apocalyptic world where humans take refuge in the Oasis virtual universe. Spielberg shows the excesses of humans, who have become addicted to a virtual world that is more brilliant than their reality. On its release, the film had reached more than 2 million admissions in France, which hoisted it to the rank of references on the metaverse.
The “Matrix” saga, directed by the Wachowski sisters
Launched in 1999, the “Matrix” saga tells the story of Thomas Anderson, whose digital double, Neo, travels between the Matrix and the real world, while machines with artificial intelligence have taken control over humans. The latter are condemned to be locked up in the Matrix to become a source of energy. The saga alerts us to the confusion between these two worlds, especially during the cult scene where Neo must choose between the blue pill and the red pill. The latest installment was released in theaters in December 2021, under the name “Matrix Resurrections”.
The “Otherworld” tetralogy, by Tad Williams (1996 – 2001)
The four works of the “Otherland” saga (in the original version) are projected at the end of the 21st century.e century in the metaverse Net, where men communicate with each other thanks to a virtual reality system larger than life and connected directly to the nervous system. The plot revolves around an outbreak of comas among children addicted to a virtual reality game. The series even inspired a video game of the same name released in 2012, which has since fallen into oblivion.
In English :
“City of Golden Shadows”, 1996
“River of Blue Fire”, 1998
“Mountain of Black Glass”, 1999
“Sea of Silver Light”, 2001
In French :
“Autremonde”, Payot, 2000, trans. Eric Holweck
“The Shadow of the City of Gold”, Payot, 2000, trans. E.H.
“The River between the worlds”, Payot, 2001, trans. Jean-Pierre Pugi
“Les Voiles d’illusion”, Payot, 2001, trans. J.-P.P.
“The Exiles of Dreams”, Payot, 2002, trans. J.-P.P.
“The Mountain of Eternity”, Payot, 2002, trans. J.-P.P.
“Le Chant des spectra”, Black River, 2009, trans. J.-P.P.
“The Gods of Light”, Black River, 2010, trans. J.-P.P.
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The five works of fiction to understand the metaverse
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