Matrix Rip-Off?


SF Author M R Mortimer
Apr 17, 2011
The Frying Pan
This is a fascinating thread for me, because I started writing my first novel in 1989, and when, in 1999 I had been for a couple of years talking to publishers about it, they eventually dropped the book because of thematic similarities to The Matrix when it was released. Rather irritating that as I was about to finally publish.

Of course, with that book, Suspended Earth, about to see print, I can honestly say its the best outcome, because the story is definitely better now that it was then having seen much change over the intervening years. It also now spawns a universe for my later work that was not possible as it was a decade ago. A universe far greater than a mere VR subset.

The Matrix is a masterpiece, yes. But it is about as original as the 487th western film ever made. As this thread points out it is not innovative. It's a good watch yes, but its ideas draw upon things that authors have played with for decades. When matrix fanboys talk of its originality, I have to laugh. I was glad somebody here mentioned Dark City. Also of course Ghost in the Shell had similar elements.

Think of it this way: The Matrix is a well known member of a wider sub-genre of SF. None of the others rip it off, and it doesn't rip them off. They merely exist within the same conceptual sub-set of their genre.


Non Bio
Staff member
Jan 5, 2001
Way on Down South, London Town
You believe that Cinema will still survive as a significant form of entertainment by that time? Won't we be fully immersed into interactive holographic games and wearing brain implants to hard-wire them directly?

Gary Compton

I miss you, wor kid.
Jul 8, 2007
You believe that Cinema will still survive as a significant form of entertainment by that time? Won't we be fully immersed into interactive holographic games and wearing brain implants to hard-wire them directly?
Maybe life is a game...


Mar 26, 2005
the next matrix movies will be the best

around 2030-40
There's an interesting question, when will The Matrix be remade?

I bet it's a lot sooner than 2030 :)

And adding another story to the list there's at least a few similarities with one of the most famous episodes from the original Star Trek series, The Menagerie.

A non-human intelligence needs humans to survive and so provides a virtual reality in order to keep the humans agreeable and get what they need.

In both cases deception fails but the menagerie ends with the situation working by consent which is kind of where the first Matrix movie ended as well.
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Nov 27, 2012
Re: matrix rip-off

Only in respect that the people inside the Matrix think they are somewhere else i.e. living in the real world. But The Matrix didn't invent that idea, so you can hardly say it is being ripped off.

I can think of several other films and TV series with that premise apart from The Island:
The Prisoner, Logan's Run, Vanilla Sky, Total Recall, The Truman Show and most probably Lost when it reaches a conclusion.

I can think of several books: Destiny's Road by Niven, Man in the High Castle by PKD, Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut, Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro. If I thought longer I could come up with many more as it is a very common theme.

The philosopher Plato wrote about the concept of people living in a world of relative ignorance, comfortable with that ignorance, because it is all they know, in his most famous book The Republic. He decribes a cave where the prisoners only see puppet shadows. Everything they experience is merely a reflection of the real world outside the cave.

It is a well worn philosophical concept. People who are ignorant of the truth will run and hide from the truth, even deny it, because it upsets what they are comfortable and familiar with. However, once they taste the truth they cannot let it go and must have it all. Then they can never go back.
I was going to point out some of this myself, but you beat me to it. I even read somewhere that the creators of The Matrix were influenced by Plato, but I'm not sure about that. It's definitely a familiar concept in literature and film.

To me one of the best examples of this overall concept was employed by John Fowles in The Magus (the novel; there was a film version but it wasn't very good). No high tech or sci fi, but the whole idea of someone's entire reality being manipulated so they don't know what is real or not.