Science fiction book ID: people can choose the reality they live in
July 29, 2016 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Trying to find a book I saw a review of: there's a huge number of humans at this point (trillions?), either living as uploaded minds in virtual reality, or in actual different physical/constructed realities. In the inciting incident, a main character is told there is no originality anymore: plenty of people across their society are simultaneously, in their own studios, creating pretty much the same thing, independently.

Sometime in the past 6 months (I think) I read an online description of a science fiction novel that interests me, and I'd like to find out what that book is. There's a huge number of humans at this point (trillions?), either living as uploaded minds in virtual reality, or in actual different physical/constructed realities.

The review described a scene in which the main character (female?) is working on a piece of art. Her friend comes to see her and tells her she's not doing anything original - he's able to search what pretty much all the other trillion+ people in society are doing and see that there are X people doing the same kind of art that she's doing at the moment, Y of them are doing the same even more specific design, and Z of them are being told by a friend the same thing this friend is telling her.

Different sets of people apparently live in different worlds - I'm not sure if this is done with Matrix-y VR, uploaded minds with no bodies attached, or different people are in different physical locations across the Solar System. In some, society might consist of people living on small farms surrounded by unspoiled countryside, without modern technology; in others, people would be used to a hyper-connected Internet and Internet of Things. The heroes go off to figure out who controls and maintains this separation of worlds, and why.

Thanks for any insight!
posted by mistersix to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I remember this scene. I'm not sure about this, but I associate it with the cover of Slant by Greg Bear. The plot summary sounds like it could be compatible with your description?
posted by henuani at 4:25 PM on July 29, 2016

Response by poster: Not Slant - I read and liked that and Queen of Angels. I think the book is a lot more recent than either of those, but could be wrong.
posted by mistersix at 4:31 PM on July 29, 2016

Mortality Doctrine by James Dashner?
posted by Sassyfras at 5:15 PM on July 29, 2016

Reminds me of the world from Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, but not the plot, perhaps one of the sequels?
posted by kbuxton at 6:05 PM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of Karl Schroeder's books? Ventus or Lady of Mazes maybe?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:57 PM on July 29, 2016

Best answer: It sounds like Karl Schroeder.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:21 PM on July 29, 2016

Response by poster: I may have combined memories of two books into one. I think Lady of Mazes is what I was thinking of in terms of people living in different realities. I thought the scene with a character being told many people were doing the same art as her was from the same book, but the reviews I see online don't mention that, so maybe that was a different book.
posted by mistersix at 9:23 PM on July 29, 2016

It's Lady of Mazes. It's not a major plot point though, so I can see it not being mentioned it in a review.

"It gets better," said Charon. "Let's do a query on how many of those sculptures are just like yours." "Stop," I said, but he went ahead with it, opening a second window - and there they were, dozens of girls making my sculpture. "And even better," he continued, enjoying the look of horror that must have stolen across my face then, "let's see how many of those girls are being mocked by a friend who's doing queries next to their work?" "Stop it!" I tried to hit him, though of course the etiquette fields of the house prevented the blow from landing.
posted by Umami Dearest at 5:09 AM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

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