Jacob’s Ladder is an interesting story which poses fundamental questions about the nature of our existence as humans, our relation with the real world (or what we think is real, because we can perceive it through our senses), and with the imaginary worlds and characters invented by novelists, playwrights, and nowadays virtual reality engineers. And it does so in an entertaining way, immersing us in a historical novel set in several European countries during the Napoleonic wars, which is interwoven with a science fiction story that looks at the historical events from a different perspective and allows the author to frame such questions in the context of artificial intelligence, avatars and virtual reality.
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Characters such as Don Quixote outlive their creators, exist in the minds of millions of readers, influence their way of thinking, their readers’ real lives, even the existence of other characters inhabiting other minds and other novels. Should we consider their existence less important than ours? Are virtual characters just a product we can create, destroy and manipulate at will? Or should we acknowledge that, once they come into existence, they have an independent life of us humans (their creators), a different form of free will; or that they closely resemble us in many ways, not only because they are our creations, but also because we ourselves might be the creations of another Writer at the top of the ladder?