Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Bruce A. Harvey

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Michael Gillespie

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


virtual reality, science fiction, iain banks, iain m. banks, david brin, karl schroeder, lady of mazes, existence, surface detail, literary criticism, jean luc nancy

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis was to explore the boundary between human and other created by virtual worlds in contemporary science fiction novels. After a close reading of the three novels: Surface Detail, Existence, and Lady of Mazes, and the application of contemporary literary theories, the boundary presented itself and led to the discovery of where the human becomes other. The human becomes other when it becomes lost to the virtual world and no longer exists or interacts with material reality. Each of the primary texts exhibits both virtual reality and humanity in different ways, and each is explored to find where humanity falls apart. Overall, when these theories are applied to real life there is no real way to avoid the potential for fully immersive virtual worlds, but there are ways to avoid their alienating effects.





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