A young video game whiz squares off against monsters and terrorists in a mad genius’ cyberworld to save America.
Ex–football star Rick gained world-class Xbox expertise during months of seclusion following the sudden disappearance of his scientist father and an accident that cost him the use of his legs, so he puts up only minor resistance when federal agents kidnap him and demand that he allow his mind to be wired into a MindWar Realm. The Realm’s creator, Kurodar, is lining up support from the Axis Assembly (“the gathered leaders of every tyranny on earth”) to wage cyberwar on the United States. Rick works to learn how to use spiritual force in the Realm to battle ravening security bots on the way to sabotaging a never-specified demonstration of Kurodar’s powers. Meanwhile, the bad guy himself pursues a certain American computer expert known as Traveler—whose real identity is telegraphed well before a big reveal in the late going. In the end, Rick’s immediate lot has improved, but Kurodar remains at large, and evidence of a traitor sets up the next episode.
The cyberthrills are stylized, but the focus is on action, and there’s just enough left unresolved to tempt readers onward. (Science fiction. 11-13)