Jules Verne looked down on a book written by his namesake. There were actually quite a few of those, and he’d read none of them. He wasn’t interested in three-hundred-year old science fiction, since modern times were more interesting than that by far. Still, the books were considered classics. He put it on the shelf with the rest. He looked at the shelves all around him, and sighed. Nobody would ever read any of these books. It seemed like a waste.
Not that people didn’t read, that would have been a tragedy to Jules. It was also not that the same words contained in these pages would not be read. No, it was just that these specific books would never be read. One reason was that, specifically, they were books. Physical medium had more than just fallen out of style, it was practically unheard of. Most of them were here, in this massive library. Deep underground, made to last throughout the centuries. A vault, really.
Jules couldn’t see that it would ever be needed, except if there were a complete collapse of electronic media, but he didn’t complain about it much. After all, he still got paid to organize, collect, and sometimes print these books. Not alone, of course. There were far too many books for one person to do that, even in a lifetime. Still, he didn’t run into his coworkers much. After all, the science fiction section was his, mostly. Sure, some others came through to toss a book or two on the shelves, but he was the one who spent all his time here. Finding them, cataloguing them, and sometimes reading them. Almost never at work, though. If anyone asked, it was definitely never at work. Even then, he only read an electronic copy. No point in turning pages. That was for people from the past.
Jules went back to shelving and organizing books. There was still a lot of room on these shelves. This was a massive project, meant to be expandable, if necessary. The books were made, specially, to last. Printing techniques had developed to the point where books could last almost indefinitely, even more so if they weren’t touched at all. Not that such technology was necessary outside of this kind of project.
Even if one is an avid reader, most will not spend all their entertainment time reading. People prefer variety, and Jules was no exception to this. In addition to reading, Jules enjoyed watching some shows, tabletop games with friends, and computer games. For computer games, he preferred role playing games- RPGs, and sometimes online versions of the same. Currently, he wasn’t ensnared in any of those online ones that are such great time sinks, since all of them lost his interest after some time.
He was chatting with some friends online about the reasons for this. Mostly, there was only so much they could do. They just repeated the same formula. Sure, the formula was well hidden in some, but eventually it showed through. Even ones that said they offered AI generated content ended up just repeating things. Maybe it wasn’t that noticeable, but Jules was somewhat cynical.
“So, are you gonna play Many Worlds?” one of Jules’ friends asked.
“What do you mean ‘what’s that?’” his friend Isaac responded incredulously. “It’s been the biggest news for the past few months. Full immersion virtual reality. What’s more, exclusive cutting edge technology. It suddenly popped up a few months ago, no news of a beta test or anything before then. It comes out today. It’s big news. What, do you live in a cave?”
Jules didn’t technically live in a cave. However, he did live deep underground in some housing attached to the library. It was free, and he didn’t particularly care about going out much. Especially not with how “out” was. The reason he hadn’t heard, though, was probably because he’d been extremely busy at work for a while. Surprisingly, someone had uncovered an ancient library, and a large number of forgotten or lost or unknown works had miraculously survived. After those books had been scanned, they’d been printed and needed to be sorted. Jules was one of the ones who had to read through to determine key factors of each book so they could be properly catalogued. Fortunately, most of it was done by AI, but it still required human confirmation, and there had been so many books.
“Umm, I guess I kinda live in a cave,” he responded quite belatedly. “So, what kind of features are there in this game?”
His friends spent the next half hour explaining various facets that would make it, apparently, the best game ever. The only drawback was that it was expensive, apparently there was special hardware necessary. Well, not like Jules had anything else he was going to spend his money on. Yes, he was going to spend his money on it. It sounded too good to be true, but he had to try.
Full immersion virtual reality. Spanning multiple actual planet sized areas. Science fiction. These were all music to Jules’ ears. The real kicker, though, was the complexity. He liked complexity, and apparently there would be so many choices available no two characters would ever be the same. Not just “probably won’t be”, but never would. Even ignoring the fact that it would create a unique secondary class for each player, which he definitely wasn’t, it was said to have a very complex statistic and skill system that would allow players to do virtually anything.
So, he had to try. If it was even a tiny fraction as awesome as it sounded, it would be worth it. If it wasn’t worth it, well… he’d be out a month’s salary for nothing. Again, though, he wasn’t spending it anywhere else anyway.
Jules really wanted this game. Unfortunately, apparently there were limited copies available, strictly because of the special hardware required. Furthermore, it came out at midnight. He rushed off to the store to get in line. Hopefully, there would still be some available because of the high cost. People hadn’t had much time to save up for it, either, with its surprise announcement. That would help with preventing those who weren’t working adults from purchasing it. Hopefully, that would be enough.
—– Next Chapter