BBC Radio 4's 'Book of the Week' this week is 'Second Lives' by Tim Guest
By Tim Guest, abridged by Jane Marshall, read by Paul Panting
A revelatory journey through the electronic looking glass of alternative life online, where 35 million people around the globe abandon reality for a virtual life.
In these computer-generated worlds, players can create a new self: with the click of a mouse they select eye colour, face shape, height, even wings.
They can buy virtual land and build houses on it, go shopping in virtual malls and buy virtual haute couture, make and sell works of art, earn virtual money and take part in a virtual marriages.