First Advisor

A.B. Paulson

Term of Graduation

Fall 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English







Physical Description

1 online resource (287 pages)


Crux Expanse is a virtual reality game produced by Phantazmode Corporation, the largest entertainment corporation in the international gaming world. In Matrixgate, Orange County, California, the center of the world's entertainment industry, the year is 2026. Ella Menopey, the protagonist, is a fifteen year-old game designer and tester for a small entertainment corporation, Arcadia. Though Ella is only fifteen years of age, she's a tough girl. If not physically capable to take care of herself, Ella's technologically capable through Nicolai, her Netherworld Netweave computer system and through the pistol she carries with her at all times. Her father left when she was two, her mother died in a seven car pile-up on California's freeway system when Ella was eight, her sister, less than a year later, at sixteen years of age, died of a heroine overdose, and a few weeks after Ella's sister's death, her legal guardian slit her wrists.

Ella has recently won the most difficult VR game in production for which she has become famous, or 'phamous' as the Phantazmode publications read. Phantazmode asks Ella to test their newest game, Crux Expanse, along with its system, the Mind System 4D Subjective Interface. The new system reads data from and interacts with Ella's mind creating a world not unlike reality. The MS4DSI is programmed to conceal the player's identity and replace it with another from the player's own memory. The object of the game is for the player to figure out who he or she is in reality and that he or she is inside a VR game before a three month virtual time limit runs out.

When Ella connects to Crux, her identity is replaced with Lindsay Black's, Ella's dead mother. Due to technical problems with the VR program and time limit mechanism, she lives fractions of her mother's unhappy life as an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, who must make sense of gaps and glitches in her reality (which she doesn't know is virtual), until she dies at forty-three in a seven-car pile-up.


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