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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 13: Science and Technology > VIRTUAL REALITIES

VIRTUAL REALITIES

The universe can be a strange and challenging place. But the environments found within virtual worlds can be even more terrifying…
William Gibson’s Neuromancer was first published in 1984.
Jamie (Hamish Wilson), the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) meet Lemuel Gulliver (Bernard Horsfall) and clockwork robots in The Mind Robber (1968).
The Doctor (Matt Smith) has to face his worst fear in The God Complex.

Virtual realities or worlds encompass a wide range of manifestations. From the advanced science of the Time Lords’ Matrix to the vast, life-saving CAL computer of the Library, or an alien device worn on the wrist, the virtual worlds experienced by the Doctor across the universe don’t conform to a single categorisation.

In purely technological terms, a virtual world can be anything constituting an artificially generated, threedimensional environment that a being can explore and interact with, manipulating objects and communicating with personalities generated by that system.

Science fiction has had a long flirtation with virtual worlds, one of the first instances being Stanley G Weinbaum’s 1935 short story Pygmalion’s Spectacles, with its visionary depiction of a system comprising a pair of goggles that allow the wearer to experience another world through holograms and stimulating the senses. Weinbaum’s vision wasn’t a million light years away from the consumable virtual reality technology available today. Novelist William Gibson introduced the term ‘cyberspace’ in his 1982 short story Burning Chrome, expanding on this concept of vast, networked virtual spaces – or matrixes – in the novel Neuromancer (1984).

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Ever since the TARDIS was first revealed in 1963, Doctor Who has presented a bewildering array of alien technology and gadgetry. Human scientific knowledge can do nothing to explain the mysteries of the astonishing devices and phenomena that the Doctor takes for granted. This is the first publication devoted to the incredible ideas that the series has made its own. Highlights include a comprehensive guide to the sonic screwdriver, the secrets of the Time Lords and the weaponry of the Doctor’s most dangerous enemies.