cover image Trouble and Her Friends

Trouble and Her Friends

Melissa Scott. Tor Books, $22.95 (379pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85733-2

Scott's talents for creating a future both hauntingly familiar and exotically remote are showcased in this feminist cyberpunk romp. Cerise and Trouble are lesbian lovers who plug into computer networks to steal industrial secrets to sell on the gray market. Both women have been wired with the newest technology, a ``brainworm'' that enables them to receive sensations when they're plugged in--a development despised by the older, mostly male heterosexual ``netwalkers.'' When Congress passes the Evans-Tindale bill to outlaw the brainworm, life on the net threatens to become more dangerous. Trouble predicts these changes and goes legit. Three years later, Cerise is working for an industrial corporation when someone begins impersonating Trouble on the nets, stealing secrets and leaving viruses behind. To save her own job and to clear her ex-lover's name, Cerise must team up with Trouble again. Their many adventures include a virtual-reality equivalent of a high-noon shootout, but loose plotting weakens the tension surrounding most of their escapades, as problems unexpectedly resolve or are simply dropped. Scott ( Dreamships ; Burning Bright ) seems more interested in using her command of the genre to explore such subjects as the importance of friendship, the strength and intelligence of women, lesbian eroticism and the workings of community. (May )