Swanwick ( Vacuum Flowers ) takes a fascinating mix of nanotechnology, magic, the vagaries of human nature (including the dynamics of office politics, transmitted to a higher plane) and an accidental genocide, and creates a futuristic detective novel with believable, motivated characters and a tight and exciting plot. Employees of the Division of Technology Transfer live in space and conduct their business through electronic doppelganger. These meet in the agreed-upon dataspace called the Puzzle Palace and work to restrict the level of planetside high technology. The unnamed protagonist (he is called ``the bureaucrat'') is assigned to travel in person (rather than via mental communication) to the planet Miranda in order to track down an ex-employee of the division named Gregorian, who has set himself up as a bush wizard in the Tidewater region, currently in chaos because of the approaching date of its once-a-century flooding. In an atmosphere of urgency and tension, the bureaucrat/agent must discover whether Gregorian is using proscribed high-tech for his magic, and if he is willing to kill to keep it. Swanwick's fluid prose is enriched by symbolism that add to the maturity of this highly readable work. Science Fiction Book Club featured alternate. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991 Release date: 02/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
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