In the opening chapter of The Reality Bug, the fourth novel in the Pendragon fantasy series, protagonist Bobby Pendragon finds himself walking through Rubic City, a metropolis in the foreign world of Veelox. Rubic City is similar to the cities in Bobby’s native Earth, with paved streets and towering skyscrapers, but there is one striking difference: there aren’t any people. Rubic City resembles a post-apocalyptic Manhattan where society has disappeared but its constructs remain.
Bobby eventually crosses paths with a local, Aja, who explains that the planet isn’t empty, but most of its population have opted to spend their time in a digital world called Lifelight, which is housed in a large metallic pyramid overlooking the city.
Lifelight is an immersive virtual reality program that brings one’s deepest desires to life, and the experience is so enthralling that few of its users wanted to return to the physical world after their first taste of this new euphoria.
When Bobby arrived, 99% of Veelox’s citizens were spending every waking hour in Lifelight, and the remaining outsiders all worked as computer engineers maintaining the virtual world and physical caretakers looking after participants’ bodies.
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