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Civilized, harmless virtual reality dueling has replaced all physical conflict — everything from punching someone over a personal insult to interstellar warfare... until a madman dictator of a small empire finds a way to cheat, and use the dueling machine to take over the galaxy!

From a six-time Hugo Award winning master of science, and set in the same universe as The Star Conquerors, THE DUELING MACHINE is filled with real people facing the end of their world as they know it.


A chunk of ice the size of a man's head banged into the shoulder of Massan's suit. He withdrew his arm from the sleeve and felt inside the shoulder seam. A leak would have been disastrous, fatal. Then he remembered: Of course, I cannot be killed except by the direct action of my antagonist. That is one of the rules of the game... The dueling machine and its rules seemed so very remote and unsubstantial, compared to this freezing, howling inferno...

Relax! he ordered himself. Do not panic!...

But he could not move his hand. Something, or someone, was clamping his arms tight. He could not even pull them out of their sleeves... The oxygen tubes! They were being disconnected!

He screamed and tried to fight free. No use... Now he was being pushed down into the sea. He screamed again and tried to wrench his body away. The frothing sea filled his view plate. He was under. He was being held under, And the view plate itself was being loosened.

No! Don't! The scalding cold methane/ammonia sea seeped through the opening view plate.

"It's only a dream!" Massan shouted to himself. "Only a dream! A dream! A..."

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