Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Club Reads Into The Future

A quick news blurb came into my newsreader yesterday, saying that Ernest Cline's 1980s video-game-saturated dystopian thriller, Ready Player One, has vaulted up's sales rankings in the past 3 days, thanks to a lengthy mention in a Technology article from Tuesday's New York Times.  The article is about high-tech virtual reality developers, such as Oculus, maker of a VR headset, using science fiction as inspiration to imagine future uses for their creations.

It just so happens that Paideia's High School book club was way ahead of Oculus -- Ready Player One was our very first club choice, back in March 2013, and is still one of our favorite reads (and a 2012 Alex Award winner).  An 11th grade student asked me this week for a cumulative list of all the book club choices, which made me realize 1) I've not posted about book club in far too long, and 2) it's quite a cool list.

Today is great timing for coming full-circle with science fiction, since our upcoming book club selection for March is another virtual reality-based sci fi novel, Lock In, a 2015 Alex Award book by John Scalzi.  In about 30 years from now, a deathly epidemic caused by a previously unknown virus has wiped out huge populations worldwide.  Many people fully recovered, but many thousands were left "locked in," their bodies 100% paralyzed but their minds fully aware and functioning.  Technology rapidly developed to free "Hadens" (named after the President, whose wife was locked in) from their frozen bodies by allowing their minds to link to and control artificial bodies (ie, humanoid robots).

What's so freaky about this right now?  Today's Morning Edition has a report on an outbreak in Colombia of Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome, which weakens victims' muscles sometimes to the point of paralysis, and is suspected to be caused by the Zika virus. Creepy when you've just read Scalzi's companion docu-story,  "Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome."

Have you ever read any science fiction that seemed a little too close to near-future reality??  Share the titles in the comments, please.

You can click to the cumulative list of all High School book club choices right here.

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