Some reflections and review on Augmented Dreams: A Mythical Matrix
(As a reader of my own novel)
Augmented Dreams is an interesting story, juggling 3 separate but related story lines with very good continuity and pacing. As a result it was an enjoyable and interesting read as a near future science fiction - fantasy crossover that asks among other things, the question of what is our relationship with technology. Is technology a good or bad force in our lives or does it depend on how it's used?
The near future vision of Artificial Intelligence and nanotechnology is shown to be both benevolent in their humanness and disturbing in their pervasiveness and potential control over our minds. There certainly is a mixture of fear and idealization of advanced technology these days and the story brings some of this to the foreground without landing on either the utopian or dystopian extremes. Much of this is backdrop though on the stage where the drama of the story takes place, where the real drama occurs. The book does raise a mixture of ethical, philosophical and personal if not spiritual questions.
Despite the technological advances that grow in influence as the story progresses, the book really has a much stronger foundation in the study of myth and symbolism. Plato's classic simile of the Cave is core to the overall frame of the story and ties nicely with the foundational Japanese myth of Amaterasu in her emergence from the darkness of isolation and confusion into the light of truth and vitality of the world. These two myths along with the story's following of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey and the Buddha's struggle with Mara define Augmented Dreams as a psychological and spiritual journey. The mythical and metaphorical vision of Artificial Intelligence adds another layer to this theme. What the author has created is a kind of Mythical Matrix where the websites are not pages but worldsites or virtual worlds and the links between them are symbolic.
Bridging all this in the personal stories of the three main characters was overall successful though it would have been nice to have some more depth in the characters and their personal histories. With that said, the story is multilayered and engaging on different levels and suffused with so many interesting ideas that one is hard pressed to catch them all in a single read.