cover image Virtual War

Virtual War

Gloria Skurzynski. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81374-0

Taking place almost entirely in a shifting series of simulated environments, this speed read could be just the ticket for cyberfiction enthusiasts. Fourteen-year-old Corgan has been genetically engineered to fight a virtual reality war for possession of one of the few habitable areas left on earth. He is battling on behalf of the Western Hemisphere Federation with a team of two other superkids: pretty, rebellious Sharla, also 14, and 10-year-old mutant Brig are code-breaker and strategist, respectively. Corgan, with his hypersensitized reflexes and miraculous ""time-splitting"" abilities, is the brawn of the operation. Few readers will be surprised when the unquestioning hero's smart new friends show him that the Supreme Council has been feeding him lies about his society, or when he realizes he prefers flawed reality to stimulated comfort. Still, Skurzynski's (Cyberstorm) pacing is zippy, and the drills set for Corgan in preparation for the war (e.g., ""Golden Bees,"" ""Triple Multiplex"" and a simulated 20th-century minefield with miniature soldiers) will keep gaming fans in good humor. Ages 10-14. (June)