A well-crafted discussion of simulation that is unexpectedly persuasive.



A writer explores the idea that life is merely a simulation in this nonfiction book.

What if the real world isn’t real but just some kind of computer program? As Virk (Treasure Hunt, 2017, etc.) puts it, “The fundamental question raised by the Simulation Hypothesis is: Are we all actually characters living inside some kind of giant, massively multi-player online video game, a simulated reality that is so well rendered that we cannot distinguish it from ‘physical reality’?” Though the idea first entered the public consciousness courtesy of the blockbuster Matrix films, it is actually a topic that has interested people for far longer than video games have been around. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave suggests a similar concept, as do the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism. Jung was interested in the notion of mental projection while Philip K. Dick—who frequently imagined such situations in his fiction—firmly believed that the world was a simulation. In this book, Virk explains how the Simulation Hypothesis is not as out there as it may initially seem, outlining how computer science, humanity’s understanding of physics, and mystical traditions going back thousands of years all point to the idea that the world may not be as “real” as people think it is. The author’s prose is clear and accessible, laden with pop-culture references and elucidated scientific concepts. He excels, particularly, in making the notion of a simulated reality—something that many readers might brush off as a subject best left to the very high and very paranoid—feel relevant to everyone: “The goal of what we call science is to understand the nature of reality. If we are in fact inside a video game, then science becomes a matter of ‘discovering’ the rules of this video game.” Most readers will likely not come away convinced that they are living in the Matrix, but, particularly with his discussion of quantum mechanics, Virk proves that reality is a much trickier thing than people are usually inclined to admit. Those looking to expand their brains for a few hours should enjoy this cerebral work.

A well-crafted discussion of simulation that is unexpectedly persuasive.

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9830569-0-4

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Bayview Books

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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