Set in the 22nd century, Marjorie Kaye Noble’s Babylon Dreams depicts a virtual world that creates an avenue for many to live after death. Gunter Holden, who was the CEO of Virtual Enterprises, Inc. (VEI), was able to create his virtual world, Bali Hai, before he committed suicide in 2123. Gunter shot himself in order to follow his wife (Laura) and her lover, who was also Gunter’s brother (Jacob), into the virtual world after they were murdered. What follows is a series of misadventures: a breach in the virtual system that brings back unwanted memories, the appearance of strange fish and other abnormalities as a result of Bali Hai’s old age, a merger that shifts control of Bali Hai to an evangelical Christian sect, the suspicious erasure of over ten thousand virtuals, and more. Will Gunter find closure as he digs into his past relationships, discovers a crushing betrayal, and watches different factions take control of his creation?
Babylon Dreams vividly portrays a reality in which human consciousness is transferred into a virtual system. Unfortunately, I had an issue with the structure of the story and its narrative style. I disliked that I didn’t know who was speaking or narrating the story in several parts of the story as there’s no clear indication of the speakers. Also, the sequence of events in the story is disconcerting as the plot seemed discontinuous and cumbersome with so many elements appearing scattered throughout the story: murders, political riots, business issues, romance, religion, suicide, income inequality, and more.
Exploring the features of the virtual world was an immersive experience; I thought the sci-fi ideas in the story were ingenious. Since virtuals can appear to be of different ages, many virtuals—including the ones who transitioned to the virtual world in their old age—chose to be young and beautiful. This challenged my ideas of age and beauty as they seemed less significant in life when I pictured a reality in which age and beauty could be changed significantly.
The story has a therapeutic atmosphere as the characters’ environments are described throughout the course of the story. I enjoyed picturing the trees, rivers, birds, and oceans. The futuristic world is so well developed that it seemed almost prophetic. Several possible issues are present, like technical issues with considerable consequences as well as opposition and resistance from religious groups and poor anti-virtuals—who can’t afford to be uploaded to a virtual world.
Though I enjoyed picturing the intricate world of the story, I wished for a simpler, neater narrative. Still, Babylon Dreams is an impressively detailed, creative story that gives readers a glimpse into a possible future with virtual reality.
|Marjorie Kaye Noble
|M. K. Noble
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|Science Fiction & Fantasy