cover image Terminal Games

Terminal Games

Cole Perriman, Author, Pat Perrin, Author, Wim Coleman, Author Bantam Books $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-09518-0

Vaguely reminiscent of Huxley's Brave New World , this pseudonymous thriller centers around a computer subscriber network called Insomnimania, which offers virtual reality games for adventurous night owls. L.A. cops Nolan Grobowski and Clayton Saunders, investigating a baffling series of seemingly unrelated murders, encounter attractive designer Marianne Hedison, who introduces them to Insomnimania. While vicariously gambling in the illusory Casino del Camino, enjoying totally safe cybersex in the Pleasure Dome and tuning in on aggression-releasing fantasy murder in the Snuff Room, Marianne has witnessed the senseless killings reenacted by a chillingly omnipotent, computer-generated ``alter'' of a chimerical network member. Computer buffs will enjoy the book's interesting insights into hacker culture, illuminating texts from a realistic ``user's manual'' and absorbing on-screen play-by-plays of various fantasy fulfillment. Unfortunately, the drama is somewhat sabotaged by Perriman's affected dialogue, artless exposition and tedious musings on cosmic meaning. These flaws are redeemed to some extent by the sustained sexual tension between Nolan and Marianne and by the novel's ingenious premise, which manages to engage the reader to its (overwritten) conclusion. The pseudonym covers two writers who have previously written computer manuals and a novel, The Jamais Vu Papers . (May)