Virtual reality in fiction describes fictional representations of the technological concept of virtual reality.
Many science fiction books and films have imagined characters being "trapped in virtual reality" or entering into virtual reality. A comprehensive and specific fictional model for virtual reality was published in 1935 in the short story "Pygmalion's Spectacles" by Stanley G. Weinbaum. Other science fiction books have promoted the idea of virtual reality as a partial, but not total, substitution for the misery of reality, or have touted it as a method for creating virtual worlds in which one may escape from Earth. Stanisław Lem's 1961 story "I (Profesor Corcoran)", translated in English as "Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy I", dealt with a scientist who created a number of computer-simulated people living in a virtual world. Lem further explored the implications of what he termed "phantomatics" in his nonfictional 1964 treatise Summa Technologiae.
A number of other popular fictional works use the concept of virtual reality. These include William Gibson's 1984 Neuromancer, which defined the concept of cyberspace, and his 1994 Virtual Light, where a presentation viewable in VR-like goggles was the MacGuffin. Other examples are Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, in which he made extensive reference to the term avatar to describe one's representation in a virtual world, and Rudy Rucker's The Hacker and the Ants, in which programmer Jerzy Rugby uses VR for robot design and testing. The Otherland series of 4 novels by Tad Williams, published from 1996 to 2001 and set in the 2070s, shows a world where the Internet has become accessible via virtual reality.
The Doctor Who serial "The Deadly Assassin", first broadcast in 1976, introduced a dream-like computer-generated reality, known as the Matrix. British BBC2 sci-fi series Red Dwarf featured a virtual reality game titled "Better Than Life", in which the main characters had spent many years connected. Saban's syndicated superhero television series VR Troopers also made use of the concept. The holodeck featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of the best known examples of virtual reality in popular culture, including the ability for users to interactively modify scenarios in real time with a natural language interface. The depiction differs from others in the use of a physical room rather than a neural interface or headset. The 2012 series Sword Art Online involves the concept of a virtual reality MMORPG of the same name, with the possibility of dying in real life when a player dies in the game. Also, in its 2014 sequel, Sword Art Online II, the idea of bringing a virtual character into the real world via mobile cameras is posed; this concept is used to allow a bedridden individual to attend public school for the first time. Accel World (2012) expands the concept of virtual reality using the game Brain Burst, a game which allows players to gain and receive points to keep accelerating; accelerating is when an individual's brain perceives the images around them 1000 times faster, heightening their sense of awareness.
The concept of virtual reality was popularized in mass media by movies such as Brainstorm (1983) and The Lawnmower Man (1993). The .hack multimedia franchise is based on a virtual reality MMORPG dubbed "The World". The French animated series Code Lyoko is based on the virtual world of Lyoko and the Internet.
One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible—inception.