Roy Burnell likes his job; he travels the globe for World Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, an agency that researches, registers, and attempts to protect fine architecture from the dangers of wars that have broken out in Europe and Asia. While inspecting a cathedral in Budapest, Burnell encounters another danger of the 21st century: memory pirates. Ten years of his architectural knowledge and sexual experiences have been stolen from him, packaged, and offered up for sale on the e-mnemonicvision black market; Burnell is left confused and bereft. In search of his career and his stolen memories, Burnell travels east, into the heart of ethnic warfare and human depravity. On his journeys he encounters a faithless priest concealing a priceless icon, a brutal conqueror, ruthless profiteers and apathetic prostitutes, and, perhaps most frightening of all, his ex-wife. He braves sandstorms, scorpions, cholera, terrorists, and government bureaucracy, trying to make sense of his own life and the lives of others. Intelligent, funny, and hopeful in spite of itself, Aldiss's (A Tupolev Too Far, 1994) latest fantasy serves as a powerful warning about the perils of the future and a rueful assessment of humanity's likely response.