I read this story in one of those "Year's best SF" anthologies circa 2001~2002.

The story happens somewhere in Asia in the near future - some of the characters were Vietnamese and others were Chinese.

The story involved a young boy orphaned and being taken care of by some sort of traveling showman or circus entertainers, even though his grandfather is some sort of shady wealthy businessman.

There is something about an inheritance involved.

At one point he sees his mother in an artificially generated dream. I remember him thinking that the dream must have been a Sony made dream.

He meets a young girl his age who he falls for and who is hesitant to return his affections, but eventually relents and sleeps with him. Later it turns out she is actually a highly skilled assassin and body guard who is sent to protect him, and he is angry at her for the deception.

Some sort of altercation with a Chinese mob boss and his lethal female body guard occurs.

He is resentful of his grandfather - and punishes him by putting him in some sort of virtual prison.

Can anybody help me identify this story?

  • 5
    To whoever flagged as off-topic: read in a Year's Best of SF, set in the future, artificially generated dream, virtual prison. Voted to leave open.
    – Jenayah
    Feb 6, 2019 at 8:26

1 Answer 1


Radiant Green Star by Lucius Shephard. I read it in The Year's Best Science Fiction - 18th Annual Collection edited by Gardiner Dozois.

The story starts with the dream scene you remembered:

SEVERAL MONTHS BEFORE MY thirteenth birthday, my mother visited me in a dream and explained why she had sent me to live with the circus seven years before. The dream was a Mitsubishi, I believe, its style that of the Moonflower series of biochips, which set the standard for pornography in those days; it had been programmed to activate once my testosterone production reached a certain level, and it featured a voluptuous Asian woman to whose body my mother had apparently grafted the image of her own face. I imagined she must have been in a desperate hurry and thus forced to use whatever materials fell to hand; yet, taking into account the Machiavellian intricacies of the family history, I later came to think that her decision to alter a pornographic chip might be intentional, designed to provoke Oedipal conflicts that would imbue her message with a heightened urgency.

The girl is Tan:

Tan was nearly seventeen when she joined us, a year older than I, an age difference that seemed unbridgeable to my teenage sensibilities. Her shining black hair hung to her waist, her skin was the colour of sandalwood dusted with gold, and her face was a perfect cameo in which the demure and the sensual commingled.

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