Near-future jaunt into virtual reality: that is, a computer-derived total-immersion fantasy experience--a simulation that, while it lasts, is indistinguishable from reality. Policeman Walter Toland, injured in the line of duty and now a paraplegic, takes refuge from a bleak existence by playing Killobyte, a virtual reality role-playing computer game with numerous levels of expertise and an enormous variety of settings. In one such--a magic castle where the object of the game is to rescue a princess--Walter meets and falls in love with Baal Curran, a likewise lonely, plain, diabetic young woman. But their celebrations are short-lived, interrupted as they are by the Phreak--a disturbed young computer hacker whose pleasure is to fix upon game players, deny them the means to quit the game, then bug them to death. Both fall victim to the Phreak, finding themselves unable to retreat into reality; but unless Baal can give herself regular insulin injections, she will die. Aided by the Killobyte helpline, whose operators are eager to capture the disruptive Phreak, Walter and Baal tussle with the Phreak through a kaleidoscope of violent scenarios. Familiar escapist, teenage-oriented romance-adventure, at least superficially, but whose bright, positive, wholesome images clash disturbingly with the unplumbed darker aspects of the fantasy (e.g., the encouraging of casual slaughter in situations indistinguishable from reality). Overall, far from reassuring.