by Nathan Devers
Albin Michel, 336 pages, €19.90
This is a story that could happen to us very soon. That of a digital “Antiworld”, an amplified and embellished mirror of our reality, in which our avatar, infinitely customizable, would live a life parallel to ours. We would become attached to his presence, to his encounters, to his successes. We could feel our sensations thanks to a virtual reality helmet and a second skin, haptic and synthetic, capable of transmitting vibrations, caresses… or stab wounds.
It is this world, the famous metaverse about which the media speaks so much, which is at the heart of the third novel by Nathan Devers, a young noted 24-year-old author, normalien, associate professor of philosophy and editor of the review Rules of the Game.
An existence transferred to a “second me”
At the start, there is Julien Libérat. A musician accumulating breaks and false notes, working too long on a hypothetical song album. One evening, the announcement of a new virtual and playful universe, the Antimonde, grabbed her attention. Adrien Sterner, demiurge president of the company Heaven, producer of the game, promises him a new life in this authoritarian and messianic tone specific to the great American players in new technologies. Anonymity is guaranteed. No risk. Just a game.
Investing wisely in an increasingly tangible virtual currency, successfully broadcasting his songs which had none in the real world, Julien gradually transfers his existence into this “second self” as seductive as it is unreal. Until getting lost in it in an astonishing way.
A new technological revolution
Beyond a well-directed plot between social realism and anticipation, Artificial Links has the merit of making us think about a technological revolution before it takes hold. To question ourselves about a digital industry that pushes our narcissism to its incandescence in order to better benefit from it, disregarding the users it was supposed to serve.
The Antimonde, here, is more than another world. It is this dystopia which promises to devour a reality that is too desperate. To engulf it in an ocean of colored pixels with the false air of paradise. There remains, however, a deaf attraction for a double life of which Devers outlines the possibilities: traveling around the world in a single gesture, speaking all languages instantly, affording an apartment at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Chimeras. At a time of crisis, this sketch of a limitless life also raises the question of the solidity of the bonds thus woven. With others, with our body, with self-esteem. Not sure they all resist disconnection.