Third volume, with two to follow, in the 29th-century adventures of Giraut Leones, troubadour, diplomat, spy, and now host of the personality and memories of his dead school chum Raimbaut. Having lost his wife, suffered the betrayal of his boss, and failed to avert a planetary disaster that concluded Earth Made of Glass (1998), Giraut has his wounds licked in the pleasure pots of Hedonia. Before the afterglow can fade, he is summoned to Earth and told of a new menace that faces the Thousand Cultures. Some venture capitalists have decided to sell prerecorded copies of individual personalities to virtual gamers for repackaging. Until recently, these psypyx had been held in reserve as a kind of hedge against death (they can be reintroduced into a living person, or a clone, and thus continue one's life).Though entertainment-hungry Earth dismisses these recordings as mere data, others in the Thousand Cultures of Humanity, most based on retro historical periods or philosophical ideals, find this so offensive that they just might secede from the loose but still powerful Council of Humanity that holds the expanding human civilization together. To show that these recordings are akin to a person's soul, Giraut, already famous as kind of pop star on Earth, publicly takes on the recording of his friend Raimbaut, who died in a duel before this recording could be implanted into a clone. Raimbaut falls in love with a young, depressed spy, while Giraut looks on with passive amusement—until he discovers a betrayer among the cadre of spies, and finds himself lying to his soulmate to protect his ex-wife, Margaret.
Soporifically plotted story of ideas that, despite some sly social satire, gets lost in interminable talk about human identity, truth, and memory.