“Moby Digital” is an adventure about exploring the classic novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville in a VR world that has been invaded by preservation seeking intelligent virus called Pazuzu.
The story starts out in an office where a university is teleconferencing with the VR manufacturing company’s helpdesk. The university noticed the Pazuzu, a large data string, enter their network, and immediately shut down their next work simulation by simulation. However, they could not shut down the Moby Digital VR world where a professor and his students were experiencing what it was like to sales aboard the Pequod as the narrator of Moby Dick, Ishmael.
An expert in VR is brought on to enter the simulation and attempt to retrieve the class. He quickly finds that Pazuzu has disabled all of the emergency exit protocols, including the secret over ride, “Karma Exit.” The answer to the puzzle is that the story must come to an end. Ahab must die. Pazuzu knows how the story ends and has taken on the VR character of Ahab. As Ahab, Pazuzu refuses to drown and end the simulation.
The danger that the students are in is real. They are in suits that help to simulates that is gong on around them through little fibrous springs that after extended use will fatigue and expand to their full dimensions crushing the humans that ware them.
What I really like about this story is how well it communicates the modern reader’s reaction to overt metaphor. One of the characters gets into a discussion of the visual surroundings, all of which suggest gloom, doom, and death. She is turned off by these overt attempts to have details of the physical world mirror and reflect the plot of the story. Her argument is strange one. She is talking this class because she wants to be a writer, but yet she dislikes one of the most powerful tools that a writer can employ to evoke emotional responses in readers.
Anyway, I’ m glad that I chose to keep my subscription to Analog. I enjoy the stories that are published in its pages and I’m always surprised at what I find.
Schembrie, Joe. “Moby Digital.” Analog. December 2008, Vol. CXXVIII, No. 12. P. 44 -61