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Old 09-08-2008, 09:49 PM
Sleel is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Japan
Posts: 2,809
I think I've asked about this book on this board before. I'll give it another shot here. It was a paperback novel, written probably about the mid-80s. I doubt the author was all that well-known. I remember very bright colors on the cover, which had some kind of standard fantasy scene depicted, but with more neon-ish colors than usual.

The story involves an online fantasy world created by the main character and some partners when they were in college. The guy is middle-aged now, with some health problems, and is brought in as a consultant by the company or the government because some important people have not been able to jack out; they're stuck online, and no one can track them down in the virtual world either. They've also brought in a Russian woman who ends up to have a bit of a hero-worship/crush on the protagonist.

He's upset at the changes in the world that have made it more commercial. I remember him remarking that the chainmail bikini look the female NPCs usually sport now was not part of the original setting, and that it's highly impractical. He is a proficient fencer and kendo practitioner who created his own sword style based on a blending of the two. In the virtual world, he tracks down some of his old stuff including his swords, one of which was called, I believe, Crystal Caliburn or something like that. The sword was a short sword made of actual crystal. (Googling that name turns up a pinball game.)

The AI who was overseeing the world has a crush on him also, and the problems might have been a way for it to meet him. In the virtual world, it created a character and took a female persona. I think she may have caused some problems for the Russian woman out of jealousy. He has hints of what the AI is along the journey. She met up with them early on in the guise of an NPC. He figures it out close to the end of the story.

I don't remember the actual ending, but I think he successfully found the Russian Premiere or somebody like that who was the reason they recruited him, and he regains regular access to the network. Can't remember what happened with the AI.

Hopefully, one of you guys can ID this story. It's bugged me for about 15 years that I can't find it again to re-read it. No idea if it stands up as a good story, but it's probably one of the earliest virtual-world-with-a-fantasy-setting books I can remember.