Eucrasia Walsh, an expert at “wetware”— altering people’s personalities—tries out a new personality about to be marketed, Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark. She decides that she wants to keep it and flees from the corporation holding her captive in the Eros Kluster. Carrying this valuable persona, Rebel must avoid both the corporation and an agent of the Comprise, the group intelligence that controls all people on Earth.
Rebel locates an old friend, Wyeth, a “tetrad” with four separate personalities that she crafted, and gets a job removing vacuum flowers, bioengineered organisms that grow on the surfaces of space habitats and asteroids. Wyeth is hired to transport a space structure to Mars, using the advanced technology and personnel of the Comprise, even though he has dedicated himself to opposing the Comprise. Rebel joins him. She realizes that she loves him but remains tormented by the need to suppress or integrate the buried personality of Eucrasia. Wyeth learns that a black-market shyapple with a psychoactive drug disables members of the Comprise, because it makes a person regain a separate identity.
On Deimos, Wyeth and Rebel meet representatives of the Soviet-style Martian government. Individuals on Mars are programmed to serve the interests of the state. Rebel and Wyeth learn that they are about to be framed and arrested, and they escape with a man named Bors, who takes them toward Earth. During the long journey, Wyeth and Rebel...
(The entire section is 544 words.)