Set approximately 100 years after McIntosh’s previous work (Soft Apocalypse, 2011), this novel ponders the effect that a 24-hour virtual lifestyle and an almost psychotically appearance-focused culture can have on romance.
Mira is a “bridesicle”: For a steep fee, a man can temporarily revive her frozen, badly damaged (but still beautiful) corpse for a chat; if she can charm him sufficiently, he’ll pay the far higher cost to fully restore her to life in exchange for her agreement to marry him. The trouble is, Mira is gay. After a very public breakup with Lorelei—who intends the drama to gain her more virtual followers—a despondent Rob accidentally runs over and kills Winter, a young schoolteacher out jogging. Desperate to apologize, he works long hours at a factory job so he can afford to visit her at the bridesicle facility and finds himself falling in love. And Veronika, a professional dating coach who feeds her clients clever, flirtatious lines to say during their dates, is seemingly incapable of forging her own deep emotional connections. This is speculative fiction at its most personal and powerful, extrapolating current social and technological trends and exploring how they would affect future people simply trying to live their lives and make their existence matter to someone. The author is perhaps too quick to dismiss the concept of “groomsicles” and the financial viability of same-sex cryogenic “dating,” but apart from that, he offers an emotionally and sociologically genuine-seeming vision of the 22nd century.
Intriguing, quirky, perversely charming and definitely affecting.