cover image Vacuum Flowers

Vacuum Flowers

Michael Swanwick. Arbor House Publishing, $15.95 (248pp) ISBN 978-0-87795-870-3

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. (February 25)