Cyberspace is surely a virtual world by today’s standards. It may be more chaotic than the likes of Second Life, and its interface alien to we of the Apple/Microsoft generation, but nevertheless it is an envisioned, digital space into which cyberpunk heroes immerse.
The trouble is that for many in these cyberpunk worlds, cyberspace confuses or replaces their reality. There are digital junkies, sentient AIs and reality simulations abound. Identities are fluid and volatile, implants project data directly onto the world around us and our very sense of self can be challenged by the use of a cyberbrain. In cyberspace, how do you know you’re not a dog?
Many cyberpunk works have dealt with reality in some way; Gibson, Dick, Shirow et al caught on that the concept of reality takes on new meaning if communication, perception and our identities all turn digital. How do we distinguish man from machine? Can we verify that what we’re seeing is, in fact, real? What is ‘real’ anyway?