Not everyone was a citizen though, there was a significant underclass who had no shares.

One character was a celebrity in some sort of combat game who was followed by camera drones & used drugs to suppress puberty so he waa an eternal 'child', I have the impression that medical science allowed virtual immortality short of accidents.

One character (may have been the same one) had had a 'previous life' & had committed personality suicide by some form of mind wipe bequeathing his worldly possessions to the new personality that would eventually develop in his old body.

I think the motive for this 'suicide' was essentially boredom, he'd lived a long time.

The mind wipe in question was pretty extensive & all encompassing, he had to be cared for & educated from scratch as if a newborn baby in an adult body, nappies & all (but I'm pretty sure this was purely backstory in the book I read).

He also had miniature nano organisms (or bots?) like miniature worms or millipedes that complimented his immune system & aided healing, they were self replicating, pretty sure they were some sort of bioengineered organism tailored to his DNA rather than bots but not 100% on that.

There was an organism spanning a large area on the planet that absorbed (or consumed) anything that wandered into it but saved the DNA of anything it had previously absorbed & might randomly reproduce any animal plant or individual it had previously absorbed fully formed.

One of the characters fell into this but got pulled out before the full effects took hold, as a result he grew leaves from his head & his immune system was then constantly battling with the 'infection'.

When did I read this? probably some time in the 80's in the UK.

When was it written? I haven't a clue, sorry.

It was a paperback, probably something I had out of a library, because I never get rid of anything I've bought myself so I'd still have it & be able to dig it out if it wasn't a library loan.

I have lots of fragments of world background & 'colour' that seem to have stuck in my mind there, but a complete lack of any story arc to go with them.

1 Answer 1


The Artificial Kid by Bruce Sterling

Quoting from Wikipedia:

The Artificial Kid takes place on the planet Reverie, a world of coral continents, levitating islands, and the corrosive, transformative wilderness of "The Mass." Reverie has been transformed into a utopia/dystopia, with a stark class division. Arti, a heavily biologically modified boy from the Decriminalized Zone, becomes a pop star by selling videos of himself engaging in bloody combat with other fighters for the entertainment of the upper classes. When Reverie's founder, Moses Moses emerges from seven centuries of cryosleep, and Arti discovers an unpleasant secret about his past, both have to flee to escape from the powers of the "Cabal" that controls Reverie from behind the scenes.

It is one of Sterling's earliest novels (1980) and can be thought of as far-future cyberpunk. I clearly remember the floating cameras that follow him all the time and record everything he does. I also remember a very large organism that the Kid and his friends encounter later in the book when fleeing the Cabal.

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  • 1
    If confirmed, this will be a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/164200/…, which was my question for the same book. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 25, 2019 at 10:48
  • Oh that sounds like it, "the corrosive, transformative wilderness of "The Mass."" that's gonna be my organism spanning a large area on the planet, just confirming with Google.
    – Pelinore
    Oct 25, 2019 at 11:02
  • 2
    @T.E.D. For most questions, yes. For [story-identification], we have a specific policy in place. The idea is that the questions are the same, "What story is this?" no matter what other details are provided, although in cases where one owns the question that is being marked as a source, it's good to add those additional details so that they're all in one place.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 25, 2019 at 14:53
  • 4
    @FuzzyBoots - Ahh, IC. For those who were curious as I was, here's the meta ruling about this issue. Fuzzy is quite correct.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 25, 2019 at 15:06
  • 2
    @Pelinore dupes (in this form) are not bad.
    – Ben Barden
    Oct 25, 2019 at 16:43

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