Are you living in a simulation?
If you aren’t now, you soon will be. The technology is fast approaching, and within our lifetimes the vast majority of humanity may be plugged into their own private worlds, living out dreams indistinguishable from reality. It sounds like a paradise. But even paradise has its price. Restricted Fantasies is a collection of short stories about lives lived inside and outside of virtual reality. The advent of simulated realities raises questions of philosophy and technology that drive at the core of our nature as humans—and in the tradition of classic sci-fi, the stories in this collection wrestle with these questions and with the shape of things to come. (From Goodreads)
I hardly read short stories. I picked this one up because I was in a major sci fi withdrawal and needed something to read in that genre (plus I was going through a major synthwave moment – still am and needed the reading material to compliment the music)
So I’ll break down by story and grade each one.
Seven Minutes in Heaven (5/5)
I loved this blend of keeping tabs on people and making it into a highly addictive game. I’d probably join in on the fun too and feel like I’m contributing to society at the same time amassing enough points to battle that dragon. I’d be addicted just like the guy in this story.
Restricted Fantasies (5/5)
Disturbing but a good one. Imagine going into someone’s twisted world (ie: Where Nazis reign supreme) where he’s made a home in a camp and made himself King. You’d want to take the little girls out of that horrible environment too.
A prison setting with an all seeing computer. The little twist in the end almost made me want to weep. I don’t know whether to congratulate on the deviousness of the plan, or to cry because of the gullibility of the other character. Still really good to read.
Second Honeymoon (3.5/5)
This one was okay. A bit of a cheap laugh because of the ending. The honeymoon was long over before it started with this couple. The idea behind it is amazing though. Who wouldn’t want to be in a virtual world where a dreamy pirate comes to rescue you 😉
Irish Grudge (2/5 )
I didn’t like this one. The guy had a lot of anger and resentment issues, lots of ambition and the whole story was just him ranting out. Meh.
First Contact (3.5/5)
This felt like longer than the rest of the stories. It was pretty good and interesting as it dealt with space exploration (apparently it’s a big huge competition) the ending would probably elicit a giggle or two – can you imagine being credited for discovering aliens in a massive love fest?
The Only Way Out is Down (4 / 5)
Another one where the ending made me laugh. You get that one person to ruin everything and you tell yourself it’s because of these immature people, this is why we can’t have nice awesome things. I loved the idea of world creation until that one person comes to ruin it all with stupidity.
Cheat Code (5/5)
I really liked this one! It’s almost like the sci-fi version of the Monkey’s Paw! The wishes just get more insane as the story progresses. You wouldn’t think of it but there is such thing as too much and too many wishes.
Rumspringa (1/5 )
My least favorite. I didn’t care too much for the main character who came off pretty whiny and behaved like a lovesick cow. And she falls for it again too, to add to the frustration. It was drawn out and just felt too long and filled with self pity. My least favorite story in this collection.
Smartest Guy in the Room (5/5)
You really feel for the guy here. Intelligent, a bit on the anti social side, his condescending view on everyone is off putting and he does sort of get his comeuppance in the end. But just when he thought he’s ready to put some real effort into society he gets the shaft. It’s funny and ironic at the same time.
My other least favorite. It’s just a narration on how he just love spending time in his fantasy world. You do get a bit of the background on where the world is headed and we’re pretty much doomed, but this story didn’t really do justice and it was all about the character having a blast.
Overall a few duds but the majority of the short stories were excellent. Definitely recommended and worth the time to read.
I give it an 8 out of 10.
Thanks Netgalley for the review copy!