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Realms Unreel Paperback – November 22, 2011
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Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
From the Back Cover
Reality is an activity of the most august imagination. — Wallace Stevens
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Top Customer Reviews
I realize the reference has already been made, but this book is clearly heavily influenced by Snow Crash by the duly glorified Neal Stephenson, and that's a good thing. We could use more books like Snow Crash and more authors developing the cyberpunk sci-fi crossed with fantasy crossed with ancient religions genre. And I say that with only the slightest hint of irony.
I really loved this book. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I knew the premise sounded really cool. If I'd started out with a better understanding of what this book was about, I might not even have read it and I would have missed out big time. Techie sci-fi stuff isn't really for me. I picked up reading as a hobby after far too much television. Cheesy sci-fi movies have forever ruined me to any futuristic fiction. I even had to suppress my distaste for it while reading Dune, which I also grew to love. Whenever the genre is even mentioned I have this awful vision of all-purpose rubber suits with gratuitous muscle-shaped ridges. Barf. However, Realms Unreel is set in the near future where technological advances are tame enough to believe that they might really exist in a decade or two, yet strange enough that even in parts where the plot moves forward slowly, I have fun just admiring the quirks of Auden's fictional (prophetic?) world.
Realms Unreel is an ambitious work. Auden covers a profoundly wide range of themes from Buddhism, to internet censorship, to religious extremism, to soul mates, to Adam and Eve. And in only about 350 pages she does this with smooth storytelling and prose that make this book fun and bizarre while the plot builds up, then exciting and immersing when it begins to unravel.
At first I couldn't help but feel that Auden had some influence from various manga. Something about the feel of the world she created and the social nuances--particularly between romantic interests--reminded me of some of my old favorite Japanese comics in a way that I could not quite pin down. A bit later on I had almost no doubt about this (Ahem... Amaterasu Nagato) which only enhanced my pleasure in reading. Something about the way background information is withheld from the reader and protagonist until it is need-to-know is reminiscent of well-done manga as well. I was excited to see these general atmospheres and plot devices successfully translated to a medium which I enjoy considerably more.
The only weak note was the fantasy element - it rang a little hollow, and was not as immersive or well-crafted as the near-future strand. However, since the book spent very little time in that world, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the story at all - all in all, this is a solidly five-star read that anyone with an interest in virtual reality, gaming, cyberpunk or Silicon Valley culture is strongly recommended to check out.