I think that the best aspect of science fiction is its capacity of portraying our reality through extreme scenarios. Take Black Mirror, Run! and even The Truman Show as an example. All of them have in common social criticism disguised as a fictional story. And as a science fiction writer, following this path is something that I always wanted.
When I wrote Total Life, besides being amazed by Black Mirror, I was also amazed by Fight Club, which might not be a sci-fi story, but it also addresses subjects that reflect our society. The need for buying more and more, for example, the need for competition and the pursuit of empty careers. This inspired me to write my book and put out some things that I had to say.
In Total Life, we meet James Gibson, a guy who spends all day charging people through the phone for his company and also being offended by his boss and his clients. Things aren’t better at home. Jimmy also has a bad relationship with his wife and can’t connect with his son, who now lives away from him.
The sad truth is that this could be the description of many people nowadays, and that becomes clear when we know that Jimmy tries to cover the empty space in his life by buying stuff and living life how people tell him to live. However, Jimmy goes further than that: he also takes over the body of an avatar by playing a VR game called Total Life, where the player can fulfill their darkest desires, such as murdering, robbing or even raping other people. In this world, Jimmy is not a common guy. Here he’s whatever he wants to be.
This is somehow things that people do in our world too. We might not use a VR glass to commit crimes, but we also take another identities through social media, where we can be whoever we want. We can pretend to be happier in order to compete with other people and prove that their fake lives aren’t better than ours. And we can also show the angriest part of our personality to offend otter people or even threat them.
Things go wrong for Jimmy when Steve, one of his avatars, becomes consciousness. Now that he knows everything Jimmy made him do in Total Life, Steve starts to use Jimmy’s personal data to manipulate his creator. Jimmy is obligated to do in the real world the same things that he used to do in virtual reality.
The story follows Jimmy in Steve’s hands through a journey that convinces Jimmy that he shouldn’t live under the rules of consumerism. At some point we can feel totally disgusted by Jimmy, but sometimes we also empathise with him when he commits crimes against people who supposedly deserve to be punished. Jimmy learns to be free… But not for real. And by seeing Jimmy’s fate and what he becomes, we learn that even freedom needs limits.
I say that because even though we can’t live under the rules of consumerism and the masses, we also can’t act as if nothing matters. Instead, we need to know our true selves and take responsibilities in life. We need to take care of our loved ones and pass through the bad events of life knowing that we’re gonna have some good moments and our suffering will be worth it. That’s something Jimmy’s doesn’t understand, and that’s what becomes his own doom.
Total Life is a thriller that explorers many aspects of society and the human nature through its plot twists, dialogues and brutal scenes. Sometimes violent, sometimes touching. It’s a book for all of those who enjoy science fiction and stories that portray our society.
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