[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
Hugo and Nebula Winner

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2020 Vision

Virtual Visits

(Rehearsal Transcript)

First aired 2 January 1998

What is 2020 Vision?

Gillian Deacon introduces Robert J. Sawyer as a man in the Year 2020 who has just returned from his Christmas vacation. Rob looks well-rested and happy.

Gillian: Hi, Rob. Did you have a good holiday?

Rob: Oh, yes! It was terrific. I visited my brother in Calgary, my sister in Melbourne, my cousin in Texas, and an old high-school buddy who now lives in Montreal.

Gillian: Goodness! That's a lot of traveling. You must be exhausted.

Rob: Not at all. After all, I didn't actually go anywhere. Instead, I sent my avatars.

Gillian: Avatars?

Rob: That's right. Virtual-reality versions of myself. I didn't really leave my living room.

Gillian: So you sent one computer-generated copy of yourself to Calgary and another to Melbourne?

Rob: Right. Since it's nighttime in Melbourne when its daytime in Calgary, I could easily monitor them both in real-time. But for the others, well, I simply flipped my attention between them.

Gillian: Like channel-surfing, but from body to body?

Rob: Right. It's great. My brother is forever showing boring holograms he took on his vacations; I just switched to somewhere else while he was doing that. Funny thing was that he wasn't really there, either — he was off spending Christmas with his wife's family in Germany. It was actually one of my avatars visiting with one of his avatars.

Gillian: It all seems rather impersonal . . .

Rob: Not at all. You must have relatives you haven't seen for years, no?

Gillian: Yes, sure.

Rob: I don't; I see every one of my relatives and old friends as often as I like.

Gillian: Kind of like a high-school reunion anytime you want it?

Rob: Right. But it's better than that. See, if I went to a real high-school reunion, they'd see that I was losing my hair, that I'd put on weight, and so on. When I'm visiting with an old friend, I send an avatar with an athlete's build and a full head of hair. And, of course, when I'm visiting with my mother, I send a clean-shaven avatar . . . she never liked my beard.

Gillian: Isn't it all a bit dishonest?

Rob: People have always played different roles and adopted different personas depending on the social situation; this just lets you do that more effectively. And you don't put on weight when your avatar eats . . .

Gillian: Still, I think I like real contact — real hugs, real handshakes — better. And I get Frequent Flyer miles . . .

Rob: Well, it's as real as you want it to be. In fact, I'm not really here right now myself. I'm one of Rob's avatars; he's off watching a hockey game . . .

(and at this point, rather than his usual schtick of walking out of the frame, Rob just fades away, leaving an astonished Gillian looking at any empty chair)

Gillian: Well, that either was or wasn't Robert J. Sawyer, a holiday traveler joining us from the 21st Century. After the break, Robert J. Sawyer, the 20th Century science-fiction writer will join us . . . in the flesh, this time.

More Good Reading

Other "2020 Vision" scenarios
Rob's CBC Radio Science FACTion columns
"2020 Vision" press release
Rob on TV — with lots of stills!
Media backgrounder on Rob Sawyer
Radio-TV Interview Report ad for Factoring Humanity
Radio-TV Interview Report ad for Frameshift

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