REVIEW: Replika: Sky’s Mission by Hugo Bernard

Replika: Sky’s Mission by Hugo Bernard is about that popular science fiction topic of a simulated reality. We’re all familiar with The Matrix but it reminds me a lot more of The Thirteenth Floor, which is a less popular but more cerebral take on the subject. Replika addresses many of the issues of this and has a surprise twist at the end that I really should have seen coming.

Replika: Sky's MissionThe premise is a woman named Vi is a genius scientist, who is being stalked by a mysterious figure named Hugo. Hugo has access to a seemingly unlimited number of resources but can’t get access to what he really wants: a boy named Henry. We then discover Henry has already gotten beyond Hugo’s grasp by entering Replika.

The in-universe Replika is a massive Matrix meets Second Life meets Metaverse sort of place that also functions like the Hotel California: You can check out any time you like but you can never leave. As a means of preserving resources, humanity has stuck a huge chunk of their population in a perpetual virtual reality where the rest of mankind struggles to repair the environmentally damaged world. Whether it’s a brain upload or your body is stuck in a tube somewhere is unclear, but it is a permanent sign-up as your memory is erased of your previous life when you enter this digital afterlife.

Back in the “real” world, though, Sky is a young woman who has devoted herself to trying to heal the environmentally damaged world she lives in. The people who choose not to go into Replika are fanatics, of a sort, who disdain anything associated with the digital world even if it could be used to help them repair the planet. As Vi’s daughter, she has her own complicated feelings regarding Replika and misses her missing brother. A bad breakup brought about by smugglers convinces her that she should try to find her brother in Replika–but is it possible?

There’s a lot of twists and turns in this novel as we deal with questions of reality, recursive reality, and the purpose of life in general. Much is made of what they could have changed for society in the simulated universe and why the creators’ lacked imagination. Why not give people wings, make them immortal, or make a paradise for them to live in? Is not the struggle for things part of what motivates us to do anything, though?

I think this is a very solid dystopian science fiction novel with a lot of high concepts but not so much that it’s incomprehensible to readers just looking for a good time. I think it’s a very enjoyable book and people looking for something that taps into the concepts of our shared experience as human beings will enjoy it. How important is our life that we experience through fiction? Is the fact it’s fake something that renders it unimportant or is the meaning we take from it equally important? I look forward to reading more into it in the sequels as this was written as a trilogy. It’s also thankfully done so you can just pick up all three.

Read Replika: Sky’s Mission by Hugo Bernard

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CT Phipps

CT Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He's the author of Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, Straight Outta Fangton, and The Supervillainy Saga. He is also a frequent contributor to Grimdark Magazine.