In the near future, many of the problems that plague society today are considered things of the past. Gun violence is almost nonexistent, quality health care is available to everyone, food is abundant and accessible, and crime is all but unheard of. These problems were solved by the creation of the Global Union, a worldwide government that treats everyone as equals.
Crime was lessened by one of the GU’s most innovative new programs, known as Justice Net. Rather than languishing in prison cells, convicted criminals are sentenced to fight to the death on live TV. The more serious the crime, the more fights they must survive in order to be released. It’s an incredibly successful program, since the vast majority of those convicted are unlikely to survive even their very first fight, while the public and the government make fortunes by betting on the outcomes.
What happens, though, when an innocent man is framed for crimes he didn’t commit? Professor Carson Pace, a gentle soul, finds himself the target of a madman who wants something he has, and before he knows it, he has been arrested as a serial rapist and the evidence against him is overwhelming.
Convicted in a mockery of a trial, Carson is sent to Justice Net, where he will have to fight for his life. He has been sentenced to seventy bouts, and the only way he can survive is to kill every opponent he faces, but he’s never been in a fight in his life. It all seems hopeless, until another convict, one who has already survived fifty bouts, takes Carson under his wing and begins to train him.
Even more astounding, a cyber terrorist group that is bent on exposing corruption in the government learns about Carson”s case, and begins working to free him. In a world with more technology than we can even imagine today, it may take the hardest work they’ve ever known to bring Justice to Justice Net.
The word has gotten out all over the world that Carson Pace was framed for the crimes that put him in Justice Net. The public is demanding his release, but Justice Net regulations say that no one can be removed from the fight roster until the courts have officially overturned any conviction that put them there.
Carson will have to fight one more time, but now he has a dilemma. Someone, trying to make sure he survives, has pitted him against a handicapped man who doesn’t even understand what is happening to him. Carson is forced to decide whether he could murder an innocent in order to save his own life.
The question is, would he still be an innocent man after that?
Carson Pace is once again a free man, and the dirty cop who framed him has been arrested and is facing a maximum sentence in Justice Net, but things are not always as they seem. Carson and Anita are happy to begin their lives together, building a family with Anita’s little daughter, but he hasn’t forgotten the commitment he made to aid Nostrado in exposing the corruption of the Global Union.
Of course, speaking out carries its own dangers. When the GU learns that Carson is using his experience to expose them, they pull out all the stops to shut him down. Warrents are issued for both him and anita, and it won’t be long before they find themselves once more fighting for their lives in the Net. But Carson was a history professor, so he is fully aware that, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with blood of patriots and tyrants.”