Imagine discovering that you have the power to create a temporary copy of anyone in the world alive or dead-and they will be yours to command. You can make them desire you, work for you, tell you their deepest, darkest secrets. What would you do with such a gift? Or is it a curse?
This has become the reality for Michael Blasco, a mild-mannered research scientist. When he first conjures up a copy of his hunky gym instructor on a train platform, Michael fears for his sanity. He quickly realizes, however, that the copies are every bit as real as the original, complete with intelligence and awareness-at least while they exist. With just a thought, Michael can end their existence as easily as he brought them into being. Once they are gone, nothing remains of them except Michael's memories.
While he first sees it all as a sort of game for his own amusement, as time goes on, Michael begins to wonder why he has this strange ability. The book takes a more serious turn as Michael searches for answers and explores the morality of the situation.
What at first seems to be a wet-dream come true gradually turns into a nightmare as Michael realizes that there are consequences to his actions with the copies. His long-term relationship is crumbling, he neglects his research project, the originals seem to retain some memory of what their copies do, and not all copies appreciate being brought back from the dead.
Lust is an amazingly original and thought-provoking concept. It could have turned into a prurient tale in the hands of a lesser author, but Geoff Ryman's strong writing more than pulls it off. The story both entertains and causes us to think about the consequences of our actions. I had a little trouble getting into Ryman's style, but about a third of the way into the book it really takes off and I was left holding on for the rest of the ride. Ryman brings historic and well-known characters to life with shocking plausibility. I especially enjoyed the visits from Billie Holiday and Pablo Picasso. Knowing a bit about both of them, I believe Ryman truly caught their spirit in their portrayals.
Once you adjust to his style, Ryman's writing is simply stunning. His word-pictures are so accurate and vibrant that you feel as if you are seeing the story instead of just reading it. In turns humorous and touching, the book brings everything together by the end for a wonderfully satisfying read. I highly recommend this book.