In 1994, despairing professor Norman Kent (saved from suicide by a mugger) is unexpectedly reunited with long-lost sister Maddy, only for her to vanish inexplicably. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, it's 1999--and computer-burglar-with-amnesia Joe Templeton saves call-girl Karen from suicide by ""wireheading"" (electrically-induced brain-ecstasy). After much harrumphing, then, Norman sets out to find Maddy. . . while Joe and Karen try to track down the source of the wireheading scourge. And the parallel sleuthings both lead to mercurial electro-wizard Jacques--who has the power to wipe memories or induce the enslaving brain-ecstasy from a distance. Norman confronts Jacques, refuses to join the latter's conspiracy, has his memories wiped; and finally, as Joe, he again confronts Jacques--who has some altruistic explanations. Robinson (Telempath; Stardance, with Jeanne Robinson) has some good, if not-very-original, ideas here--but, thanks to artificial dialogue, dubious psychoanalyzing, and a dull windup, this sf melodrama is more often unconvincing than gripping.