What if you could sleep with anyone in the world, just by thinking about it?
The ultimate fantasy?
Or a nightmare of self-discovery?
From the renowned author of 253 comes a dark, erotic fable for the modern age.
On the way home from the lab one night, Michael Blasco, a young scientist, spies an acquaintance he fancies. Idly, he imagines Tony naked and an extraordinary thing happens – Tony strips there and then on the platform and offers himself in front of all onlookers. Horrified, Michael flees. But back at his flat, Tony magically reappears. Then disappears, when Michael wishes him away.
Michael knows an experiment at work when he sees one. He sets out to test the parameters of his new-found gift, rapidly calling up Billie Holiday, Johnny Weismuller, Lawrence of Arabia, Alexander the Great, Picasso, and even his younger self.
Mad with lust and losing all scientific objectivity, he runs the gamut to his fantasies until, utterly sated but morally bankrupt, he’s forced to confront the spent figure of himself. And maybe learn something – about life, about love, about the desire in all our souls that defines everything we do.
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Caught in a mid-life crisis, Michael, the slightly weary hero of Geoff Ryman's Lust, finds himself with a somewhat double-edged gift. He can summon anyone he likes--which mostly means mature men--in a convenient disposable copy and make love to them, irrespective of the original's sexuality. None of this does anything for his concentration on a research experiment, his chronic impotence or the collapse of his relationship with his long-term boyfriend, but he does get to have encounters with Tarzan, Alexander the Great, Billie Holliday, Picasso and a cartoon diva. He also learns a lot about himself--we gradually realise that there are major wounds in Michael's past with which he has failed to come to terms; in the end, his gift teaches him something about liking himself. This could have been a piece of playful erotic fluff, or a moralising piece of self-help sentimentality; Geoff Ryman gives us fluff and some serious morality, but also gives us heart and intelligence. We find ourselves caring that Michael gets through this without permanent damage, admiring the dogged brilliance he brings to finding out just what the limits of his gift are. -- Roz KaveneyReview:
Praise for 253:
‘Has more emotional depth than a festival of tear-jerkers’
‘A stylistically dazzling box of fireworks’
‘Astonishingly vibrant… lyrical and totally engaging’
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Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002259877