Simulation was a major theme throughout Oryx and Crake as well as Red Mars. Part 4 of the novel only continues to raise the question of why? Differentiating between what is real and simulation seems to be a continued problem throughout the novels. In the novel Oryx and Crake, there was the simulated character of Snowman experienced through the character Jimmy as well as the simulation experienced by readers as they experienced meeting and gaining understanding of the characters Oryx and Crake through the use of Jimmy’s story telling. In Red Mars, there is a disconnect between the simulations of Earth projected onto Mars’s alien atmosphere and literal simulations of feelings versus what is real.
- “Ann said it felt as if someone had stepped out of the TV. My life feels like that all the time,’ Maya said sadly” (p.214).
- The feeling of simulation.
- “‘No.’ He considered it. ‘I don’t.’ It was all too real, in fact–the cold of it seeping up through the rover seat deep into his flesh–inescapably real, inescapably cold” (p.214).
- Feelings of a real physical response to experience.
- When speaking of Mars, “‘except two hundred degrees Kelvin,’ Russell said. “Sure, it looked like the Mojave, or the Dry Valleys. The first time I looked around Mars I found myself keeping an eye out for one of those mummified seals we saw in the Dry Valley.” (p.40).
- Simulating the images and memories from Earth onto Mars.
- “He was in the TV lounge. While lost in thought he had apparently gone back inside. But he could not remember that; he had thought he was still standing on top of the Great Pyramid; and then he had blinked and was in the TV lounge (all asylums have them), watching a video image of the lichen-covered canyon walls of Marineris.” (p.224).
- The lack of ability to mentally feel experiences, this was more like simulating physical reactions without consciousness .
- “Homesickness, there must be a better term for that, a scientific label that would legitimize it, make it real to others. But he already knew it was real (p.226).
- An emotion simulated through words to gain agreement from those who did not understand homesickness.
The novel showed a disconnect between what is real and what is thought to be real. The author may be using the disconnect to show that the alien planet is so distant to the mind yet so real considering that the astronauts are physically there. Maya states in the first quote that she feels as if her life is passively experienced, almost as if she is not feeling anything real at all. Even Michael states that Maya had slept with men to get to her position, using sex as an emotion but not really feeling what she was doing (p.225). The author is trying to show readers that they may go into “auto pilot,” when experiencing new or difficult situations. Michael couldn’t even remember that he had had gone back inside to the TV lounge, and in a later quote even considers himself to feel almost dead (p.224). The author is trying to tell the reader to experience life. Instead of trying to force your ideas on a situation experience the differences, the changes, and the alien-ness of life. Instead of simply thinking of what a situation should be, it should be taken at face value.