|Fontana SF paperback, 1977. Cover illustration by Tony Roberts.|
"The boxers slugging it out in the ring were just holographs, patterns of light, but to millions of Network viewers they were genuine flesh and blood. They looked real, and with an E-link between the handler controlling the sim and the viewer's mind you could actually feel them emotionally - their excitement, power, anger...even their fear and crushing sense of defeat.
After the fight, when the holos faded out and the handlers took off their headsets, the boxers ceased to exist. There were no scars to heal, except mental ones - and Network wasn't interested in things like that.
But for years one handler had been tortured by painful memories of a previous fight - so much so, that when he came back to the ring for the last time he was fighting not just to win, but to gain honour and self-respect in a world he had ceased to believe in."