12 October 2011

67. The Dueling Machine

The Dueling Machine - Ben Bova

This is another fun science fiction novel that I have wanted to read for quite some time and finally got around to it.

This one is about inter-planetary and societal conflicts being settled using the dueling machine. It is essentially a virtual reality machine that two people enter and fight it out in a "world" of their own making. The duels are used to settle everything from legal problems to treaties between planets.

That is great, though I am still not sure how being a better fighter in any arena makes one more correct than another, but it sure is fun to make a story about such a scheme.

The dueling machine works fabulously until people start getting killed...for real. One faction is using the machine to kill members of another faction so they can take over politically and avoid an actual military assault.

Luckily the super mega ultra hyper genius that invented the machine comes to the rescue. He figures out that the bad guy is a telepathic and the machine is enhancing his abilities and allowing him to bring others into the battle to assist him. All his opponents are so shocked at this ploy that they have strokes and heart attacks and generally faint dead away like fragile 19th century women. Wimps!

It all gets figures out and the good guys use the same tactic against him, but they bring really good fighters and kick hell out of the bad guys in virtual reality and win the duel. Once the duel fails to kill someone the entire evil genius plan falls apart and they retreat back to their galactic hideout to fight another day.

OK, so I described the story in comic book super hero terms. That doesn't mean it was stupid like that. It really was a good book, a fun quick read, and something that didn't take a lot of thought to stay involved or entertained.

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