Results of the John W. Campbell Award in the year 1990.
London has flooded. Britain is tropical. And people photosynthesize.
In a semi-tropical London, surrounded by paddyfields, the people photosynthesize. The Consensus, a vast DNA unit, controls the country. Children are raised in Child Gardens and educated by virus. Viruses control their behaviour; nonconformism is treated by the Consensus. Information, culture, law and politics are now biological functions.
This is the story of Lucy, the immortal tumor, Joseph the Postman, whose mind is an information storehouse for others, and Milena, an incredible musician who has a secret, lost even to herself. She is resistant to viruses. It makes her alienated in an enclosing world. It will make her one of the most extraordinary women of her age. The secret is lost in memory. It is hidden somewhere—in the Child Garden.
The cylinder was the world and within it lived the Horizontal dwellers—factory drudges and the wealthy, priviledged few. Seeking to escape the Horizontal, Ny Axxter, a free-lance graffex artist, took to the Vertical, the outside of the Cylinder. Here people traveled the cable network with microchip implants that let them tap into the computer-run economic and information net. Roaming among the warring military tribes that ruled the Vertical, Ny sought his big break. But when it came, he was caught in a tribal power struggle, pursued by a megassassin, and forced to flee to places no Vertical climber had ever seen before…
George Eberhart is dead. Or was. The newsnet he works for has illegally revived him. But he finds himself examining the sensationalist stories he has been reporting on—for evidence that there are Aliens among us.
Lucky Eberhart, George’s wife, loses her job for her role in reviving him, and finds that there are worse things on Earth than she had dreamed of in her philosophies.
The Reverend Jimmy-Don Gilray believes that the Day of Judgment will arrive on the stroke of midnight, December 31, 1999. But all bets are off if the Aliens are already here.
Meanwhile, Carla Hazard, Sandy Ellison, and Martha Shummel are finding that this is their lucky day. Or is it all a sinister Alien game?
And Judgment Day approaches…