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    As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality

    By: Michael Saler

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    Many people throughout the world inhabit imaginary worlds communally and persistently, parsing Harry Potter and exploring online universes. These activities might seem irresponsibly escapist, but history tells another story. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, when Sherlock Holmes became the worlds first virtual reality character, readers began to colonize imaginary worlds, debating serious issues and viewing reality in provisional, as if terms rather than through essentialist, just so perspectives. From Lovecrafts Cthulhu Mythos and Tolkiens Middle-earth to the World of Warcraft and Second Life, As If provides a cultural history that reveals how we can remain enchanted but not deluded in an age where fantasy and reality increasingly intertwine.

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