A while ago I read a short story where, thanks to some sort of nano-technology, all disease has been cured. Most people have to go to a hospital to have their blood monitored, but the main character has a ring that constantly monitors and filters his blood. As one of the few remaining surgeons, he goes to the only place where surgery is still required (which is I think Papua New Guinea, but it could be New Zealand, I'm not sure) where a virus is causing rampant tumor growth in the islanders. The next part is a spoiler I guess:

He meets a woman connected to some sort of underground movement who tells him that the data that allows the nano-technology to work was collected illegally on the people of the island who have the tumor disease. He says he will do whatever he can to help and they stage a mugging where they remove his ring Gollum style so they can use it to help the islanders and he can get a new one through his insurance.

I also remember that it opened with people sunbathing in Australia with tattoo's that change color in the sun because no one is afraid of skin cancer anymore.

Anyway, I've googled the heck out of everything I can remember and I can't find this thing, does this sound familiar to anyone?

  • 3
    Sounds very much like Greg Egan's Yeyuka.
    – DCoder
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 12:51
  • Thats it! I should have known that Sci fi + Australia = Egan. Thanks! Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 14:19
  • @DCoder, you should write this up as a formal answer, and user3661107 please formally accept it when he does. It helps a lot with site statistics, duplicate maintenance, and searchability of this question for the reference of future users.
    – Otis
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


You're describing Greg Egan's Yeyuka:

I touched the ring on my left index finger, and felt a reassuring pulse through the metal. Blood flowed constantly around the hollow core of the device, diverted from a vein in my finger. [...] So the ring knew exactly what was in my blood. It also knew what belonged, and what didn't.

"It's only three months. It'll fly past."

"It's not too late to change your mind."

"And miss my last chance ever to perform cancer surgery?"

He said, "HealthGuard's parent company collected blood from five thousand people in Southern Uganda in 2013. Supposedly to follow up on the effectiveness of their HIV vaccine. What they actually wanted, though, was a large sample of metastasising cells so they could perfect the biggest selling point of the HealthGuard: cancer protection. Yeyuka offered them the cheapest, simplest way to get the data they needed."

Okwera said, "Bandits."

I felt my heart racing. "You're kidding?"


I turned on him angrily, but before I could say a word he whispered, "She'll be all right. Just tell me: do you want them to take the ring?"


"I've paid them to do this. It's the only way. But say the word now and I'll give them the signal, and they won't touch the ring."


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