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Lautriv (1991)

'Lautriv' (published in French in 1991 in 'Reserves'*) is a dystopian short story where the narrator walks the streets of a decaying city, empty except for the inevitable 'v-bums' - AR / VR junkies hooked to virtual experiences. 

A missile hits just meters away, but that's only a hologram ad for VNN / Virtual News Network. Did I mention that networks sponsor wars in distant nations now? 

Yes, I wrote that story during the Gulf War. 

Anyway, when he returns to his office, the narrator decides to end it all, and that's how we learn that he is the US President. As the nuclear mushroom rises above the skyline, a v-bum asks for a refill to enjoy the show advertised in this spectacular teaser...

Thirty years after Lautriv, the 'metaverse' has a name, 'Lautriv' and 'VNN' are actual brands, and we are probably doomed.

dragedies 2021
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* I joined this small authors periodical in peculiar circumstances. As an ESSEC student, I was interviewed for a marketing internship in a big French group. When the HR exec told me that my handwriting had totally conquered their graphology experts, I confessed that I wrote with the left hand in spite of being right-handed, and that for some reason, I was quite good at drawing, but utterly illegible. And my handwriting was collapsing even faster now that I was using word processors more intensely. When she found out that beyond homework and articles I was writing fiction, she suggested I joined 'Reserves', my first ever authors collaboration.

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