A cyberpunk thriller from Nebula Award winner Michael Swanwick that explores bioengineering, wetware, and the riddle of personality
Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark is a recorded personality owned by corporate giant Deutsche Nakasone. When Rebel’s personality is uploaded to persona tester Eucrasia Walsh and burned into her brain, Rebel escapes the corporation and takes off across an exotically transformed solar system, hijacking Eucrasia’s body and becoming the most wanted fugitive in existence.
A fast-paced technological thriller, Vacuum Flowers allows the reader to consider the implications of bioengineering while providing an entertaining and dynamic story. Reminiscent of the innovative work of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and Bruce Sterling, this high-tech work of science fiction carves out a niche all its own with themes as relevant today as when it was first published.
Like most of the genre, Swanwick's cyberpunk novel takes off from '40s crime thrillers and films noir, his basis here being the amnesiac seeking her own past. Eucrasia Walsh had been a persona buma tester of plug-in personalitiesuntil one of the implants accidentally burned itself into her brain, blanking out her own identity and leaving her the sole template of the valuable new persona. Corporate giant Deutsche Nakasone and its graymarket rivals are both after her, but while on the lam she becomes involved in the struggle between Earthnow a single communal mindand the colonies of individuals scattered through the solar system. As with Swanwick's first novel, In the Drift, the story peters out toward the end, but until then it is inventive and playful, poetic and ingratiating. SF Book Club main selection.