Fiction  > Speculative & Science Fiction  > Other by A to Z  > G - R

Reset h/c

Reset h/c back

Peter Bagge


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Mining a similar vein to Taniguchi’s A DISTANT NEIGHBOURHOOD (two volumes) and Alex Robinson’s TOO COOL TO BE FORGOTTEN, but in his own inimitable car-crash comedy style, HATE’s Peter Bagge returns to the realms of virtual reality. First there was the identity crisis of OTHER LIVES, now it’s the eternal question about whether – given the opportunity to relive major moments – you’d change any decisions you made in your life: things you did, things that you said, things you can never take back. Now you can, or at least washed-up actor/comedian Guy Krause can, after he signs up as a guinea pig for a virtual reality experiment wherein he walks around in his own history and engages with those he once knew. But is he only going to make matters worse? I don’t know! He keeps pushing the reset button!

Suspicious and cynical, however many times Guy Krause walks out, he keeps coming back: convicted of road rage, he’s been off the stage for too long. He’s broke, he needs money and the experiment’s backers know that, so when he does try to secure a spotlight again, however minor, the rug’s mysteriously pulled from under him right at the very last minute.

Meanwhile lead scientist Angie Minor has done extensive research into Guy Krause’s history, gleaning all manner of intimate details based on Guy’s stand-up routine, extensive media coverage and interviews – that’s what makes him the perfect candidate – but she’s even dug out the relevant college yearbooks. And that’s where the opportunities for exploration begin: on Graduation Day when Gail Malone, a girl Guy had admired from afar, said the first and last word she will ever say to him: “Spaz.” It’s a moment that’s sure left its scars. Will Guy ever find out why she said it, and if so, how can that be possible in a pre-programmed virtual reality?

This… didn’t quite go where I was hoping it would. OTHER LIVES really ran with its premise, exploring all kinds of temptations to deceive online, each with its own ramification offline. And certainly this throws up all sorts of questions about what celebrities are increasingly prepared to do in order to maintain or rekindle their profiles and fortunes. Also: how much unfinished business a lot of people carry with them, cluttering up their lives, and how many lies may be told about you once you’ve left a particular circle of friends, safe in the knowledge you’ll never hear what is said. Sorry if I’ve induced a little paranoia there!

But this doesn’t dig deep enough nor unearth any great surprises, while the ‘game’ itself goes nowhere. As to the sub-plot behind it, well, there is an alternate use the system’s been tested for which is topical and could actually work, but I’ve had to imagine those circumstances myself: there’s nothing to convince you of it here.