Writer’s Name: Stanley G. Weinbaum
Writer's Bio: Stanley G. Weinbaum was an author of primarily science fiction short stories. His most popular and influential work is "A Martian Odyssey" and though his life was cut short from lung cancer, he was a prolific author and made a large mark on the science fiction community. His background in university was chemical engineering before he switched to English.
Name of Short Story: "Pygmalion's Spectacles"
Date of Short Story: 1935
Summarize Short Story: "Pygmalion's Spectacles" is a short story that imagines a virtual world filled with the lovely, lush landscapes of Paracosma and the dreamlike characters of Galatea and Leucon, the Grey Weaver.
Opinion of Short Story:
As this is my second time reading "Pygmalion's Spectacles," I want to go a bit beyond what I covered the first time, which was the vividness of the world and some technicalities about VR. Although, I have to admit that the story is just as captivating a year later, and I would attribute this to the richness of Weinbaum's writing and how evocative his words are. This time around, however, I feel like I paid more attention to the sensory elements and how different the technological landscape here in 2018 has changed since when I read this story just over a year ago. At the very least, I am more aware of technology that can mimic the three-dimensional sound that Dan experiences, the sensory and haptic feedback that he experiences thanks to the Professor. For example, it is possible to capture 360-degrees of binaural audio with microphones such as this one (though it is missing the top and bottom of the cube):
I also know, from some installations that I've experimented with and also experienced, that one can achieve sensory details such as smell by incorporating it into the environment. For example, site-specific VR might be recreated with bringing in actual materials such as alcohol-soaked furniture in mimicking a bar, or straw or chlorine water to mimic being in a barn or at a pool (see: Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, link below). The mind is so powerful that just as Dan gets lost in this world, especially with the added sensory details, I think so too people can get lost in VR with the added help of sensory details (if that's the intent of the experience).