My latest re-release delves into one of my favorite subjects: Modern mythology, or, as they are more commonly referred to, Superheroes. Having grown up around the many comic books and cartoons about the colorful exploits of these demigod-like characters, I’ve always fantasized about a world where superheroes could actually exist. In As The Mirror Cracks, I’ve managed to create such a world, and it is totally believable… because it is, in fact, a virtual world that people in the real world can visit.
The story of As The Mirror Cracks centers around a fully-immersive virtual world called The Mirror, one that has become so widespread and popular that people from all over the world regularly spend time within its digital boundaries, working to earn money that can be spent in the real world, and (if they have enough money) customize their avatars, or in The Mirror’s case, “reflections,” to suit their tastes. Many reflections are as hyper-real as they can be made, and some of them are superheroes. Suddenly, we can become superheroes and save the day.
And as suddenly, we realize that one reality may actually impact the other. In As The Mirror Cracks, real-world and Mirror finances have become fully intertwined, so a financial crisis in one world can affect the other. When a plot is discovered that can destroy The Mirror, the fate of the real world is also at stake, because a loss of the financial resources of The Mirror could mean a global financial collapse in the real world. So saving The Mirror is as vital as saving the real world.
When I conceived of this story, I loved the idea of superheroes in a virtual world. In there, superheroes can make perfect sense. Those physics-defying powers can be possible, because the virtual world can have “physics” of its own to permit things that could never happen in the real world. Virtual worlds can become alternate realities that live beside our own reality and allow us to visit. This has given me the chance to write superheroes into a story that is fully realistic and believable, a “hard-SF” story with workable comic-book heroes… the best of both worlds.
The story was originally to be called Right Brane, the same as my ePublishing title. I saw a lot of similarity to the idea of the virtual world, and the concept of our reality being one of a potentially-infinite number of “branes” existing literally side-by-side in the universe. String theory suggests that our universe is actually a three-dimensional projection of a two-dimensional brane, existing alongside other projections that are only separated by degrees of frequency between them… other realities barely separated from our own.
I conceived of the Right Brane as a connection between our brane of reality, and the brane of fiction, giving us access to their stories; and the story’s Right Brane would represent that as a virtual reality tightly tied to our own. However, as the story developed, the poetic strength (and more public familiarity) of “Mirror” and “reflections” won out, and I went that way instead.
If you want to have as much fun reading this story as I did writing it, try matching up as many of my invented superheroes with their approximate counterparts from other comic book companies and cartoons. It might make for a cool drinking game…