Simulacron-3, known as Counterfeit World in the UK, is a groundbreaking science fiction novel by Daniel F. Galouye, originally published in 1964. The novel grapples with complex themes of reality, identity, and simulation, depicting a world in which a full-scale simulated reality is created for the purpose of market research. The inhabitants of this simulated environment are unaware that their reality is not the "true" one, leading to a series of existential questions and dilemmas. The book has been adapted into several films and is cited as an early influence on the concept of virtual reality. While it was initially released as a Bantam paperback original under the title Simulacron-3 in July 1964, this UK hardcover edition was also published by Gollancz the same year. The priority between the two editions is unclear, but the Gollancz hardcover is significantly rarer and more sought after than the Bantam paperback.
Hardcover. First Edition, First UK Edition. Octavo, red paper-covered boards, with gilt lettering on spine. London: Gollancz, 1964. #10552.
Foxing with some discoloring to page edges, else near fine in near fine dust jacket with one tiny chip at fold. A very nice copy of a difficult book to find.
Simulacron-3, also known as Counterfeit World in the UK, is a pioneering science fiction novel published in 1964 by Daniel F. Galouye. Set in a future where a technology company has developed a "total environment simulator," the story follows Douglas Hall, a member of the development team. Hall finds his life spiraling into chaos as people around him mysteriously disappear. Investigating these strange occurrences, he makes a disturbing discovery: not only is the simulated world a detailed reflection of reality, but his own existence may also be a simulation. This existential revelation sets off a chain of events that threaten to unravel the fabric of his world.
Galouye's novel dives deep into philosophical themes such as the nature of existence, reality, and the ethical implications of simulated consciousness. Written at a time when virtual reality was not yet a mainstream concept, the book presciently explores the ethical and existential dilemmas arising from such technology. The narrative echoes the thoughts of philosophers like Descartes, with characters wrestling with the tenet "Cogito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am") as they face their simulated existences.
Although there is no direct evidence that Galouye's work influenced later genre-defining projects like The Matrix series, its thematic foresight positions it as an early harbinger of cyberpunk, probing the realms of simulated reality. The novel has been adapted into various formats, including a two-part German television film, World on a Wire (Welt am Draht), directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1973, and the 1999 movie The Thirteenth Floor, directed by Josef Rusnak.