The Reality Bug

Work Title: The Reality Bug
Medium: Novel
Episode Title:
Year: 2003
Writer(s): D.J. MacHale
"Original" Writer: Yes Own work?: No


By D.J. MacHale, Victor Lee; "Fifteen-year-old Bobby Pendragon has visited the alternate dimension of Denduron (The Merchant of Death), explored the endangered underworld territory of Cloral (The Lost City of Faar), and traveled back in time on his own planet Earth to uncover the evil plot of the fiendish Saint Dane--the evil force behind all these interworld exploits (The Never War). Now he "flumes" (a kind of time/space travel) into the territory of Veelox expecting to wage another battle against evil... only to find all is peaceful. He quickly discovers the peace is due to the fact that most of the citizens of Veelox have become addicted to Lifelight, a virtual reality lifestyle. Unfortunately, what once seemed so safe and enjoyable has taken a frightening twist, and Bobby must rely on a Veelox Traveler named Aja to help him find a solution--and save the territory. His antagonistic relationship with the brilliant Aja grates on his nerves as she spits out cryptic words of wisdom: "Salvation here can be found in only one place: the imagination. If you can't understand that, you might as well flume out right now." / Fans of D.J. MacHale's Pendragon series will enjoy this latest entry, and look forward to the forthcoming fifth title. The attraction of the series is not so much great writing or character development as fast-paced action and edge-of-seat danger. (Ages 9 to 12)" (from

Era/Year of Portrayal: present_day

Distinctive characteristics of the world in portrayal:

Present Day 2003.


  • Name of portrayed presence-evoking technology: Lifeline
  • Description of the technology: Inside a giant pyramid, thousands of people lie in little cubbyholes, dead to reality and alive in virtual reality. This is lifeline- where people can live out thier perfect lives. A person is kept alive y machines as thier minds are enagegd in a perfect life. Everything is more vivid, tastes better, and nothing ever goes wrong. The details of how it works are unclear.
  • Nature of task or activity: Inside lifeline, a normal life can be lived, or a fantastic one. Whatever the user wants to occur, does perfectly.
  • Performance of the Technology: Lifeline fuctions well, until it is corrupted by a virus, the reality bug. Then, things in virtual reality start to go awry. Little things go wrong until people start to die, in virtual and real life.
  • Description of creator(s): A white, male, child genuis invneted Lifeline, before he was a teenager. Now he is over 70, living out his days in Lifeline as a perpetual teenager. His name is Dr. Zetlin.
  • Major goal(s) of creator(s): To give people the perfect life that is unavailable in reality.
  • Description of users of technology: Everyone - male, female, poor, rich, old, young. It is free. `
  • Type(s) of presence experience in the portrayal: both
  • Description of presence experience: The experience is highly enjoyableo and addicitive. Poeple never want to leave Lifeline. Even after the system is corrupted, the users want to go back.
  • User awareness of technology during experience: Yes, they are aware.
  • Valence of experience: Very enjoyable, even when dangerous.
  • Specific responses: They are addicted to the pleasure of having a perfect life. No one wants to leave lifeline and as a result, society has crumbled. Cities are deserted and children are raised to run the machines for the adults.
Long-term consequences:

The consequences are negative. Although the protaganists truimph over the bug, users cannot be convinced to abandon lifeline. They choose to exists in virtual reality, letting thier real world dissapear.


Coder name: Amanda Scheiner
Coder email:
Coder affiliation: Temple University