(Open Books 2011)
Review by Donald O'Donovan
The Virtual Life of Fizzy Oceans is a strange and wonderful book. Fizzy Oceans, the heroine, thinks outside the box. But she doesn’t stop there. Fizzy lives outside the box. Fizzy lives, as the title indicates, in a virtual world, where many of the limitations of our so-called real life are absent. In Virtual Life, as opposed to Physical Life, there’s no gravity, no disease, no aging, and you can travel through space and time, sans passport, with just a click—whoosh—of a button. You can be who you want to be, go where you want to go, and yet The Virtual Life of Fizzy Oceans is not a science fiction novel for the simple reason that the technology that Fizzy and her virtual friends enjoy exists on the Internet now. Fizzy Oceans herself is our narrator. Her style is breezy and conversational—Author David A. Ross has a great ear for dialogue—and the result is a light and frolicsome narrative freighted with serious content that is easily ingested, thanks to Fizzy’s unfailing good humor, playfulness and wisdom. Those of us who grew up with video games drove go-karts, leapt tall buildings and battled Koopa Troopas in the person of Mario. But why let somebody else get your kicks for you? In Fizzy’s virtual world you get to custom sculpt your own personal avatar (called an emulation), a digital alter ego that has the characteristics you choose. What about sex, you may wonder (I know I did)? Not a problem. At a virtual venue appropriately called the Sex Dungeon a delightfully uninhibited Fizzy gets it on with the hunky emulation of a Polish baker whose Physical Life body is in Krakow, while her Physical Life body, a bookish 37-year-old medical clerk named Amy Birkenstock, is tucked away in a stuffy office in Seattle. The literature of escape abounds with tales of lost civilizations populated by beings who were able to communicate telepathically, teleport their bodies, and move freely about on the astral plane. Fizzy Oceans, as a representative of the new virtual culture, does it all, with ease and aplomb. In a world without boundaries she gets up close and personal with some of history’s finest (and some of the sickest) minds, including Mark Twain, Mahatma Gandhi and Saddam Hussein, as she takes the pulse of our tottering civilization and strives for a peek at what the future may hold. According to Fizzy, there is hope: “Perhaps we can kill ourselves with negligence and stupidity, and maybe we can render our beloved and fragile planet inhospitable, but…we can’t extinguish the current of love, no matter how hard we try.”
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David A. Ross is a writer, editor and publisher. From 1984-1985 he was a columnist and contributing editor for Southwest Art Magazine. His novels include Sacrifice and the Sweet Life, A Winter Garden, Stones, Xenos, How High The Wall, Good Morning Corfu, and his award-winning first novel The Trouble with Paradise (republished by Open Books under the title Calico Pennants).
In addition to his career as a novelist, he was the publisher of the small tree publisher press Escape Media from 1992-2004. Currently he is the publisher of online literary and features journals including Moronic Ox Literary & Cultural Journal.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, he presently lives on the Island of Corfu, Greece.
Fizzy Oceans in the Cataret Islands
Fizzy Oceans in Virtual New Orleans
Fizzy Oceans visits Ancient Rome
Fizzy Oceans at the Hopi Indian pueblo