9

I remember a lot of things about the book, but none of them have brought up a name and nobody I've asked remembers it

  • Pheromone technology plays a big role in the world- airborne pheromones serve as security systems that trigger allergic reactions in anyone not inoculated, were used to enforce cliques, and one of the major characters is basically an indentured servant to her mother because she was made addicted to a pheromone only her mother could supply.
  • There was a bit about how you could use something sort of like those coin-operated binoculars to control drones in the atmosphere of Jupiter, but how they tended to be full of malware and would leave you craving various fast food brands.
  • A biotech shuttle is mentioned as looking like "a bumblebee".
  • There's a plot thread about a moon colony using cutting-edge biotech to grow habitation "pods"- towards the end one of the characters that joined the project and became merged with the facility as some sort of bioCPU takes over and launches the whole thing as a spaceship, I think using a hydrogen thruster fuelled by ice?
  • There's a scene where a parking lot was "paved over with transparent plastic" years ago and you could still see cigarette butts and lotto cards frozen inside.
  • Corporate agents(?) wore pastel-coloured ties because they were supposed to be "soothing".
5

I've been curious about this book since you posted this so I've on-and-off been trying various searches to locate it. I think I've found it...

Clade by Mark Budz

From the wiki-description, it seems to match the main point:

The wonders of biotech introduce a new class system where human beings have been socially engineered at the molecular level through a process called "clading." This "clading" process places entire socioeconomic or ethnic groups made to be biologically predisposed to live in particular communities. If a person enters a community that they have not been claded to, the consequences could be devastating, resulting in sickness or death. Although it is not intentionally racist, businesses and retail outlets using this clading process to keep away the riffraff, will simply screen out clientele below a certain prosperity level. Therefore, a black market exists enabling people to buy the right biotech to inhibit the "pherions" in their systems to be placed in a certain clade.

It also mentions a "troubled" girlfriend who I suspect is the one indentured to her mother, but I can't find a specific site.

Many of your other very specific points seem to match, though. The following are quotes found from searching Google-books "search inside" on keywords based on your information:

bumblebee-shaped shuttle:

The SSTO, single-stage-to-orbit plane, resembles a bumblebee with butterfly wings grafted onto the body."

pastel-covered ties:

One agent wears a meringue yellow tie, the other pastel lime. She's heard somewhere that pastels are supposed to put people at ease.

clear plastic overpaving:

Through the clear glaze, the preserved remnants of pre-ecocaust Americana are clearly visible. Cigarette butts. A discarded lottery ticket. The flatterned blue plastic of a ballpoint pen cap.

There's also a sequel, "Crache."

  • That's definitely it, I'm pretty sure I recognize the cover too! Very much appreciated, I'll have to track down a copy now to have a go re-reading it. – Alexia Aug 10 '16 at 3:49

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