Sometime in the near future, computer nerd Lionel lives alone with his sick cat, Buddha. His flat overlooks the high street, rundown except for the last hub of the community, his friend Mr Barber’s shop.
Lionel is mixed-race, adopted by a white family. But, apart from his gorgeous, abrasive sister Lilith – his best friend and harshest critic ¬– his adoptive family have deserted him. Lionel plays games because he’s a coward who can’t handle human interaction, Lilith says, before one of her frequent disappearances.
But when Lionel puts his headset on and enters CoreQuest he is Ludi – a fighter, a womaniser. He’s free. Here he doesn’t need to face his childhood, of being bullied by his adoptive brothers, and the shocking event he can’t remember.
Still, the ‘real’ world won’t go away. Nor will Crystal, the haunted Anime girl who needs to be saved from the ‘adult health centre’ opposite his flat. Soon nothing adds up. Why are people beginning to look at him nervously? Why do the outcasts at work suddenly want to be his friends? Has Lilith this time disappeared for good? Reality and the game begin to blur and Lionel and Ludi are assaulted on all sides. And as Lionel struggles to unravel what’s happening to him, Ludi tries to rescue the people he loves before the game is altered forever.