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Authors: Brian Daley

Tron

BOOK: Tron
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AN ELECTONIC WONDERWORLD
COME TO LIFE . . .

Denied access to a program he created, computer expert Alan Bradley seeks out Flynn, a video game virtuoso who is the only man clever enough to outwit the powerful Master Control Program.

Flynn's efforts are in vain. The Master Control Program shoots him into an incredible electronic world, where computer programs are the alter-egos of their programmers, where video games are battles of life and death.

It is here that Flynn finds Tron, the alter-ego of Alan Bradley and the only program who can overthrow the Master Control. The video wizard and the electronic program join forces in a battle to decide whether man or machine will control the system.

THIS ELECTRIFYING NOVEL SHOWS THE
WORLD OF COMPUTER GAMING FROM THE
INSIDE
—WHERE REAL PEOPLE BECOME
ELECTRONIC PAWNS IN A WORLD THEY
DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS
Presents

TRON

A LISBERGER-KUSHNER Production

Starring
JEFF BRIDGES • BRUCE BOXLEITNER
DAVID WARNER • CINDY MORGAN
and BERNARD HUGHES

Executive Producer
RON MILLER
Music by
WENDY CARLOS
Produced by
DONALD KUSHNER
Screenplay by
STEVEN LISBERGER
Story by
STEVEN LISBERGER
and BONNIE MacBIRD
Directed by
STEVEN LISBERGER

A WALT DISNEY LTD. RELEASE

A Del Rey Book
Published by Ballantine Books

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Sale of this book without a front cover may be unauthorized. If this book is coverless, it may have been reported to the publisher as "unsold or destroyed" and neither the author nor the publisher may have received payment for it.

ISBN 0-345-30352-0
First edition June 1982

MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CONTENTS

TRON

01

02

03

04

05

06

07

08

09

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

T
HAT OTHER WORLD
is vast too; to its inhabitants, their System is limitless.

The Electronic World enmeshes the Earth, and reaches beyond it. Information is moved through the computer systems and processed by the artificial intelligences. The programs compute and search, retrieve and collate; they are already indispensable to science, industry, education, and government—to society in its present form.

The programs challenge and entertain in videogames, with no risk of harm to their human Users; they teach in the carrels and test in the classrooms. They evaluate and mediate; their word is often final. Their World is vast; their Users know less of it than the Users suppose.

The programs are only algorithms as human beings are only collections of chemicals.

The two, boy and girl, stood before the garishly painted machine, its screen showing them lively mosaics of light in bright colors. They played the videogame expertly, sharp and shrewd and quick; picking up the knack of the games was fun, but it demanded an application of self amounting to diligent work. On the screen, computer-modeled figures warred, throwing disks of devastating power at each other . . .

Elsewhere, closer than the boy and girl would have believed and yet infinitely distant, Warriors faced each other across an arena on the Game Grid, in the System. They were human in form, but luminous, one red, the other blue.

They held their disks ready for lethal casts, studying one another warily. They wore close-fitting, rounded helmets which left their faces exposed, and were shod in knee-length boots. They were armored in pauldrons that cupped their shoulders and vambraces that encased their forearms. The armor had an instrumented, highly technical look to it. Their bodies were patterned with radiant lines suggesting vestigial circuitry. The Blue Warrior’s incandescent circuitry glowed a brighter blue than the rest of his body; his opponent’s shone a warmer yellow-orange.

The arena was only one of many in the Domain known as the Game Grid. It was, on their scale, hundreds of feet across. The soaring walls that enclosed it were perfectly smooth, divided into rectangles by lines and panels of bright illumination. The floor was composed of precise squares marked off by a glowing meshwork. Accustomed to them, the Warriors spared no attention for their fantastic surroundings. They waited, watchful, disks held between thumb and fingertips.

The Red Warrior moved suddenly, casting with a snapping motion. His spinning disk, blazing with a golden light of its own, sliced through the air at his opponent. The other tried to duck and block the weapon with his own. But the Red had been quick, and clever with his throw. The Blue missed his block and the disk struck him. There was a violent release of energy, smashing the Blue down onto the Game Grid. The red aura of the disk triumphed over the Blue’s aura, enveloping the prone Warrior. He de-resolved, fading rapidly from sight, becoming a swirl of static.

In a moment, the de-rezzing complete, the loser had vanished.

Far from the Game Grid, the boy turned to the girl, mortified at the ease with which she’d won. “Lemma play you again?” He figured he had her technique analyzed now, and was positive that he could beat her this time.

She shrugged; she sort of liked him, and enjoyed sharking him. “Yeah, if you’ve got another quarter.”

Into the videogame went the coin, where it joined millions upon millions of others earned by the programs. They and their playing fields, the videogames, were one of the most popular entertainment innovations in history.

The side of the machine bore the ENCOM logo, which could also be seen on computers and electronic equipment of every variety, factories and research facilities, skyscrapers and paychecks. ENCOM was the commercial superpower that had taken leadership of the computer revolution, unrivaled international leader in the field of artificial intelligence.

Another game was in progress over the Grid. It resembled jai alai, but the two Warrior opponents each stood at the center of a series of concentric rings, gleaming circles suspended in midair, shining in the Warrior’s color, blue or red. Each Warrior was armed with a power-cesta, the long, scoop-shaped glove with which the game-ball was hurled and caught. Above them, a broad, reflective disk, several yards across, was poised, unsupported but unmoving.

The smaller contestant waited nervously, and rightly so, for he was a User-Believer, a Blue. Unwilling to give up his commitment to those mystical beings whom all the programs of the System had once served, he’d been sentenced to play on the Game Grid until he died.

That moment seemed near. The User-Believer shifted uneasily as he waited. He was determined to do his best; that was as it should be with a program. But his adversary was Sark, the Command Program.

Sark the Red, the unbeaten; Sark the tall, merciless Warrior, had won so consistently that he no longer kept track of his victories. It was Sark who served as Lord of the System, under the rulership of the Master Control Program. Sark’s mission, the Master Control Program’s prime objective, was to wipe out all loyalty to the Users.

That fierce visage might cow any Warrior, cruelty spoke from every line. Programs in every Domain in the System had seen Sark’s wins, and knew the figure in the elaborate, vaned casque-helmet. They’d watched him eradicate the enemies of Master Control, and knew that to enter the arena with him was to die.

One of the User-Believer’s rings was already gone, demolished during an earlier exchange. But now he hurled the sparkling ball once more. Up it shot, a tight node of ruinous energy, to bounce off the mirror overhead and streak toward the waiting Sark at bullet speed. The Command Program, cloaked in his red aura, moved then; with apparent ease, Sark caught the pellet with his cesta. A sneer twisted his countenance, as if to ask if his enemy could give him no more interesting contest.

Sark readied, cast. The pellet rebounded from the mirror. The Blue saw that he must leap across an empty space where his vanished ring had been in order to, make the catch—either that, or see another of his rings dissolved. He took a running start.

But the User-Believer had miscalculated; Sark had foreseen what he would do in reaction, and played on it. The Blue barely made the leap across the gap. As he teetered on the edge of his ring, the game-pellet struck him squarely. The luckless User-Believer exploded in a brief turbulence of de-rezzing.

Sark’s laughter was full and chill. Only one feeling surpassed this elation he felt when he’d obliterated an enemy. Victory he must have, and often; conquering his foes was proof that he was the Command Program, Sark. His circuitry flashed brighter with the emotion coursing through him, gleaming red.

BOOK: Tron
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