"How can you drink tea from an empty cup?"
That ancient Zen riddle holds the key to a baffling mystery: a young man found with his throat slashed while locked alone in a virtual reality parlor.
The secret of this enigmatic death lies in an apocalyptic cyberspace shadow-world where nothing is certain, and even one's own identity can change in an instant.
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Two-time Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for Best Novel, Pat Cadigan is the Queen of Cyberpunk for the brilliance of her ideas, the genius of her near-future extrapolations, and the beauty of her writing. No one else has explored and illuminated the mind-machine interface with the keen and relentless intelligence she demonstrates in her novels Mindplayers, Synners, Fools, and the long-awaited Tea from an Empty Cup. Her fourth novel is a perceptive, fascinating, witty SF mystery of artificial reality, whose paradoxical name perfectly defines its nature: an immaterial world of pure sensation, where, by legal mandate, everything is permitted and nothing is forbidden.
The hazards of Artificial Reality are spilling into the real world--people vanish and solitary gamers are found slain in sealed AR booths. The young woman Yuki, child of a Japan destroyed before her birth, enters AR as the new assistant to the mysterious celebrity Joy Flower, but with her own agenda: to find Tom Iguchi, her missing beloved, who never was her lover but had been one of Joy's Boyz. The hard-boiled homicide detective Dore Konstantin stalks the virtual streets of post-Apocalyptic Noo Yawk Sitty seeking a serial killer who may have murdered eight gamers from inside AR itself. But how do you find missing or hidden persons in a world where nothing is as it seems? The two plot lines subtly converge as fact and fantasy, murderer and victim, as well as understanding and identity invert in a virtual universe where the dangers are real and ever-present, and you can be anything or anyone but yourself. --Cynthia WardFrom Kirkus Reviews:
Near/medium-future cyberpunk yarn from the author of the paperback Fools (1992), etc., and numerous well-known stories. Artificial Reality is indistinguishable from external reality; all enthusiasts and addicts need to enter it is a ``hotsuit'' and a helmet. Police Lieutenant Dore Konstantin investigates a DOA found in an AR parlor; the victim is a 17-year-old Caucasian with a messily cut throat. In AR he called himself Shantih Love, or perhaps Tom Iguchi, though he wasn't Japanese; his favored scenario was post-Apocalyptic Noo Yawk Sitty - wherein, Konstantin discovers, eight deaths have occurred in as many months. There were no witnesses, and nobody was seen to enter or leave the booth where the boy died. Meanwhile, Yuki, a full-blooded Japanese (Japan itself has been destroyed), attempts to locate her mysteriously vanished boyfriend, Tom Iguchi. She meets Tom in Noo Yawk Sitty, but he's trapped somehow in AR; worse, someone else is experiencing everything she experiences, wearing her just as she wears the hotsuit supplied by shady AR facilitator Joy Flower. Konstantin, though a novice and completely out of her depth, is also forced to enter AR in order to develop new information. She borrows the Shantih Love ID, complete with cut throat, and eventually learns that the enigmatic Body Sativa knows everything that's going on in AR. A parlor employee, it emerges, was supplying drugs to clients, enabling them to ``speed'' up to the higher levels of AR enjoyed by clubbers, manipulators, and various wannabes. Poor Yuki, meanwhile, finds she has become Joy Flower's slave. Konstantin will find it perplexing to sort out the swirl of motives and multiple identities, or even distinguish AR from reality. The murder mystery's well constructed and often absorbing - but AR is no different from VR, and the intractable problem remains: when anything can happen, how is it possible to care when something does? -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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