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Vacuum Flowers (1987)

by Michael Swanwick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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535836,599 (3.67)5
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.  … (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Swanwick, Michael. Vacuum Flowers. 1987. Open Road, 2016.
Michael Swanwick is a writer who should be better known than he is, despite one Nebula award for his novel Stations of the Tide and three Hugo awards for his short fiction. He caught the cyberpunk bus early on, and in Vacuum Flowers he extends its reach into the kind of space opera I usually associate with John Varley’s Eight Worlds series. The story is set in a solar system that is inhabited all the way to the Oort Cloud with “cannister habs,” “Dyson trees,” and a partially terraformed Mars. Most of the solar system is dominated by large corporations, but not Earth. It has been taken over by an AI that has incorporated all its residents into a hive mind. Our heroine, Rebel Mudlark, is resurrected into a body not her own after her death by suicide. Her persona with all its memories and skills is owned by a corporation, but Rebel lives up to her name. She is “wetware” who does not accept her programming. Her story is fun to follow, and if I have one complaint about the novel it is that the world-building too often leaves Rebel in the background. Nevertheless, Swanwick is a writer I will revisit. ( )
  Tom-e | Feb 15, 2021 |
Dear Vacuum Flowers,

I will not miss reading your pages, as far fetched, right on and eco-cyber-futurist as they may be. I guess if an abridged graphic novel version comes out I'd read that, but you were a bit of a slog for me.

So why'd I keep reading?

What i liked: imagery, futurist scene setting & plot devices, kick-ass female lead (except when not) , promiscuous female lead who faces few negative consequences for casual hookups, characters who move fluidly between socio-economic strata

what i didn't: no sense of humor (or one i don't share? ), kick-ass female lead (who wasn't ? ), promiscuous female lead who faces few negative consequences for casual hookups, stereotypes instead of archetypes

Worth reading for the "going to the bank scene" alone - i'll remember it a long time .
( )
  nkmunn | Nov 17, 2018 |
This doesn't feel like a cyberpunk novel, because most cyberpunk feel very much of their time, whereas this has a freshness to its exuberant vision that seems to disdain such strictures.

Rebel wakes up in Eucrasia's body. Rebel is an artificial persona that has come to life, though she is marked for death by the corporation that owns her. Literally of two minds, she escapes and goes on the run with Wyeth, a friend of Eucrasia's with an interesting mind-state of his own, and they jaunt across the cylinder cities and dyson spheres and ice comets of the solar system looking for answers and adventures and finding both.

It's a marvelous read, bright and energetic and crisp and fun, full of invention and strangeness. The cover for my edition is awful, but it isn't inaccurate and as such is just a single glimpse of the dizzying wonders of Swanwick's strange and alien future. ( )
1 vote Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
This is the most seminal cyberpunk book you've never heard of. Along with Neuromancer, it spun off pretty much all the ideas that made cyberpunk a movement.

Like all good SF, the story is not about science, but the effect of science on people. The premise is simple -- a technology that reprograms human wetware. The effects are profound and varied. Lots of different types of societies spring up. Communist countries program their citizens with political doctrine. Either police or thugs can grab passersby and reprogram them into copies of themselves, who then go on to reprogram others. Greatest of all is the Comprise, a planet-wide consciousness which tends to absorb individuals -- the clear inspiration for ST:TNG's Borg (first seen in "Q Who?" which aired two years after this book was published).

Through this world runs a woman who may not be herself, from enemies she doesn't understand, with no clear idea where she's going. Fast paced adventure against a backdrop of a fascinating hi-tech otherworld.

It's hard to find. But if you find a copy, grab it. ( )
  WilHowitt | Mar 19, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
De mensheid op de Aarde is een groot, geestelijk collectief geworden, maar in de ruige, vrijzinnige kunstwereldjes elders in het zonnestelsel leven miljoenen individuen, waaronder de persoon Rebel in het lichaam van Eucrasia. Ze is op de vlucht voor het machtige concern Deutsche Nakasone. Het verhaal van deze roman is niet in een paar woorden na te vertellen. Swanwick (geb. 1950) is met William Gibson de meest uitgesproken exponent van een nieuwe stroming in de science fiction: cyberpunk. Het gaat daarbij steeds om de vervagende grens tussen mensen en computer-software (hier 'wetware' geheten) in bizarre, anarchistische settings. De verhalen hebben een enorme informatie-dichtheid en puilen uit van de ideeen. Als lezer moet je er je hoofd goed bij houden. Deze eerste vertaalde cyberpunk-roman is grandioos, en nu al een klassieker. De vertaling (die een heksentoer moet zijn geweest) is bevredigend. Aanbevolen voor allen die echt eens iets nieuws willen lezen.

(NBD|Biblion recensie, P.M.H. Cuijpers.)
added by karnoefel | editNBD / Biblion
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Swanwickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bonnefoy, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunn, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furon, DanielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hasted, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jackson, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, RonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Donnell, RichCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Relsky, Walter B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robert, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wachtenheim, DorothyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Gardner Dozois
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She didn't know she had died.
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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.  

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