VACUUM FLOWERS by Michael Swanwick
Kirkus Star


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Scintillating hard-cover debut from one of science fiction's most promising newcomers. The setting is a provocatively imaginative yet intelligently levelheaded ""cyberpunk"" future (comparable in style and quality to the Shaper/Mechanist universe of Bruce Sterling's fine Schismatrix) where humans, dwelling in artificial space-habitats, hollowed-out asteroids, tunneled comets, etc., have spread throughout the solar system. Thanks to a planet-wide computer hookup, the people of Earth have become a vastly intelligent but error-prone colony mind, the Comprise. Brains and psyches can be rebuilt and reprogrammed in hours; ""wetware"" plug-in computer chips can enhance human capabilities, even to providing artificial personalities. The plot here concerns the efforts of Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark (an artificial personality layered over the shattered mind of psychological engineer Eucrasia) and Wyeth (he has four amicably coexisting personalities and capabilities) to grapple with, and eventually defeat, the dangerously expansionist Comprise. Intense, absorbing work, twisty, vital, bulging with joyous and believable ideas, thankfully without the nastiness characteristic of many cyberpunk yarns--though it does run out of steam in the closing chapters. Grab!

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1987
Publisher: Arbor House