I just got a vague memory of a book I read when I was in middle school, and I'd love to find it again but I only have a basic grasp of the plot and some tiny details.

Set sometime in the future or some alternate space reality

Protagonist is a boy whose mental or telekinetic powers allow him to either simulate soldiers on a battlefield or direct ones that another kid with similar powers creates

The adults use these kids to have simulated wars with no actual people dying, but it takes a huge toll on the kids.

The three kids who create, direct, and strategize the battlefield are kept separate from each other and aren't allowed to interact but the protagonist unwittingly meets one of the others, and they secretly meet at night.

There's some sort of eye or camera that watches the boy when he's in his room, but he manages to dupe it somehow and escape. Prior to the escape and meeting a few workers he is unaware of the effort that goes into producing the things he's given like his washable clothing, food, etc.

The kids end up working together to defeat the adults and show them the errors of their ways and how the simulated war hurts the kids. I think at this point you realise the earth is in a bad way, and this is how people are fighting for control of it, and the kids are hostages in an extremely calculated, protected and privileged facility.


  • Their clothing is washable, in the sense that you stand under the shower in your suit and the water washes the suit right off
  • The bed the boy sleeps on is a puff of somehow {elecro??]magnetically manipulated air (which probably stuck with me because it was so cool)
  • Protag team formed of two boys and a girl, one creates the soldiers, the other moves them, and the last one strategises and directs them.
  • The simulated war only takes place once; prior to the actual battle it's all training.
  • The war is against another team or teams of kids with the same abilities, but in their training the kids are brainwashed to think the enemies are real villains.

I'm pretty positive it was NOT a Bruce Coville book although that's almost all I read in middle school :) It was a standalone book and probably published between 2000-2004. Thanks so much for any leads!! I'd really love to find it again.

1 Answer 1


"Virtual War" by Gloria Skurzynski. 1997. It's a series.

By the year 2080, plague, disease, and nuclear war have confined Earth's two million human survivors to a few domed cities, where they are governed by the Western Hemisphere Federation, the Eurasian Alliance, or the Pan Pacific Coalition. When it is discovered that a small group of islands in the Pacific has become livable again, the three federations decide to wage a bloodless virtual war, with the winner to take possession of the island called Nuku Hiva.

All his life Corgan, then fourteen, has trained to be the champion of the Western Federation. Genetically engineered for quick reflexes, superior physical condition, and a remarkable time-splitting ability, he's been raised in isolation inside a virtual reality Box..

Only three weeks before the start of the War, Corgan meets - virtually - his two teammates: Brig, a ten-year-old mutant who is a superb strategist, and Sharla, the same age as Corgan. It is Sharla, with her brilliant ability to break codes, who brings him his first real human contact. She also teaches him to mistrust the Supreme Council, whose orders he'd always obeyed.

  • Thank you so much!! I had no idea it was a series, but I probably read it somewhere around '97 or '98 ;) I'm so glad you could help me out. I spent hours online searching all possible things and nothing led me to it. I'm gonna go see about reading the rest! Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 16:09

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