Lisa Mason’s classic cyberpunk about an ambitious young mediator who must confront a terrifying presence haunting her telelink. From the author of Summer of Love and The Gilded Age.
High above the dangerous streets of post-quake San Francisco Island, mechanically modified professionals link minds in a cybernetic telespace to push through big deals and decisions at lightning speed. But unexplained telelink blackouts and bizarre hallucinations have marred mediator Carly Quester’s debut appearance before a computer-generated Venue—forcing her to consider delicate psychic surgery at the hands of a robot therapist, Prober Spinner. And suddenly the ambitious young mediator is at risk in a deadly Artificial Intelligence scheme to steal human souls—because the ghosts of Carly’s unconscious may be a prize well worth killing for.
“Powerful . . . Entertaining . . . Imaginative.”
“In humanity’s daring to enter the cybernetic heaven (and hell) of telespace, Lisa Mason reveals the lineaments of all that is tragic and transcendent in our evolution. Once the journey into this vivid and terrifying future has begun, there is no returning until the infinite has been faced and the last word read.”
--David Zindell, Author of Neverness
“Cybernetics, robotics, the aftermath of San Francisco’s Big Quake II, urban tribalism—Lisa Mason combines them all with such deftness and grace, they form a living world. Mason spins an entertaining tale . . . She allows Carly’s robotic allies a measure of personality and sophistication beyond the stock role of a chirping R2D2 or a blandly sinister Hal . . . Her characters and their world will stay with you long after you’ve finished this fine book.”
--Locus, The Trade Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy
“Lisa Mason stakes out, within the cyberpunk sub-genre, a territory all her own.”
--The San Francisco Chronicle
“Mason’s endearing characters and their absorbing adventures will hook even the most jaded SF fan.”
“Arachne is an impressive debut by a writer gifted with inventiveness, wit, and insight. The characters face choices well worth reading about. This is cyberpunk with a heart.”
--Nancy Kress, Author of Brain Rose
“There is a refreshing amount of energy associated with Lisa Mason’s writing. The good old values are there: fun, excitement, drama—but served up with new and original twists. Lisa Mason is definitely a writer to watch—and to read.”
--Paul Preuss, Author of Venus Prime
“Lisa Mason must be counted among science fiction’s most distinctive voices as we rush toward the new millennium.”
The invention of cyberspace has allowed humans to link into a shared electronic network, increasing hundreds-fold the speed of such complex interactions as courtroom trials. Carey Nolan is a new lawyer with the firm of Ava & Rice, trained in the techniques of shifting only her rational self into the cyberspace courtroom. But on her first case something else leaks through and causes her to crash. In danger of losing her job, she accepts a court order to be probed by medical experts. However, Spinner, the Prober to whom Carey is directed, is one of many Artificial Intelligences who believe that possession of these leaked substances--usually by theft--will lead an AI to transcendence. Such stealing invariably kills the human involved, so Carey's life is imperilled during her therapy. The prose in Mason's first book is uneven, but her inventive portmanteau vocabulary clearly depicts the wonders of a San Francisco 43 years after a second major 21st-century quake. The symbolism of the Arachne myth ties the story together at the climax.