"Science Fiction/Fantasy full of passion, courage, and adventure"
VIRTUAL HEART is Ms. Huxman's incredible debut
story is a definite keeper. I found it to be vivid,
sensual, totally believable, and very, very, difficult to
In the not too distant future, the owners of two rival
Virtual Game companies agree to meet for a "date". The two
companies are based on radically different technologies.
Virtual Delight,Megan Cooper's operation, is the
latest computer-generated offering. Jake's concept is a
little more unusual, he is a telepath who hopes to tap into
the gamers' brainpower to generate virtual dreams. He is
hopeless at the technical aspects of the industry, and
Megan suspects the date is just an excuse to pump her for
information. She isn't wrong, and she's very evasive.
When Jake attempts a subtle mind probe, as an alternate
means of obtaining the information, he is stunned to find
her mind blocked to him. What could that possible mean? He
isn't going to find out soon. Megan uses a trip to the
as an excuse to give him the slip.
While she is out, Megan's partner, Mark, is tampering with
the fail-safes on her virtual program. He does mean to harm
her, in fact he's suffering from unrequited love for her.
His plan is to play the hero by rescuing her, and hopefully
get her to see him in a new light. A citywide power surge
disrupts his plan, causing an actual emergency. Megan is
trapped in the game while an electrical fire is sweeping
the building. What Mark does in the next hour could mean
the difference between life and death for her. One mistake
would mean the end.
Little does he know, Megan isn't alone. The same surge has
propelled another into the game, just as Megan realizes
that there are some glitches in the program. At first Megan
believes the man is the guide she had programmed to deflect
danger from the gamers. Soon though, he begins to look very
familiar. In fact he bears a strong resemblance to that
dreadful Jake Mason. Is this a dream, or have powers
beyond their control merged their two virtual worlds?
In addition to their canned scenarios the pair come face to
face with not only their greatest fantasies, but also their
worst nightmares. By working together for their mutual
survival, the two come to respect each other's courage, and
understand their vulnerabilities. Megan is first to realize
that they share deep feelings for each other. The bond is
deep, encompassing heart, mind, and soul. Just as deep is
the fear that the whole experience is a dream. That her
hero is not real, and if he is, will the romance end when
the game does?
Outside time is running out. Megan is in real danger and
Jake's family is using their considerable mind power to
reach him. Will the two survive only to return to their
respective, lonely lives? Will their love be lost for ever
in a virtual world they can never hope to recreate? Ms.
Huxman doesn't take the easy route. These two will have to
fight for this relationship, and there are major
complications. However the ending is truly satisfying.
VIRTUAL HEART is a blend of passion, courage, and
adventure. I recommend it highly.
Copyright © 2000
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted April 25, 2002