When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn't take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him.
It's the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees' personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew.
On the run from a ruthless pursuer and searching for a place to hide, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse. Constructed to simulate a pre-accelerated culture, participants are assigned anonymized identities: it looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters, and of his own unbalanced psyche...
This series provides examples of:
- Amnesiac Dissonance: The main character of Glasshouse practically exemplifies this trope, although it's subverted in that he was good both before and after he had amnesia, but he was simply more violent.
- But I Would Really Enjoy It: Reeve and Sam have a ton of Unresolved Sexual Tension, but they can't sleep together for a variety of reasons, including the fact that birth control is not allowed in the Glasshouse. They both struggle with it, but she seems to have a harder time resisting the temptation than he does.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Reeve and all the other participants in the "experiment" in Glasshouse, trying to live as late 20th-century suburbanites.
- Gender Bender: Robin, who is turned into a female named Reeve when he enters the experiment in Glasshouse (He isn't fazed, as he's been female before).
- Laxative Prank: Reeve spikes Fiore's coffee with this and chocolate in Glasshouse to give herself time to take an impression of his key to the special room in the library.
- Memory Gambit: In Glasshouse, the main character erased whole chunks of his memory so he could infiltrate a secret facility.
- Mind Virus: "Curious Yellow", a virus that's done an unknown amount of damage...because one of the things the virus did was erase the memories of anyone who knew why it was released in the first place.
- It gets worse: Word of God states that "<The war> was "won" except nobody knows what the worm was trying to censor. (Implicit upshot: the war is over because the bad guys won, and censored their victory from the memories of their entire culture.)"
- Given that persons infected with Curious Yellow cannot hear the words "I love you", it's not impossible that the virus sought to eliminate love itself.
- No, that was explained in the book as a result of a warning system put into place to detect future outbreaks. It is not caused by the virus itself, but rather is triggered by the infection.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dr. Hanta is named after a nasty kind of virus that tore through the Navajo nations in 1993. Subverted in that she is the one experimenter Reeve trusts implicitly. Double subverted when she learns why.
- Pre-Climax Climax: Since the house is under surveillance, Reeve and Sam plan their attack on the Glasshouse authorities in the shower. Once they're finished planning, well, one thing leads to another...
- In Glasshouse, Curious Yellow is named after to the Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow) (or more directly, after a paper about computer worm design).
- The Linebarger Cats are named in honor of Paul Linebarger, who literally wrote the book on psychological warfare, and his well-known proclivity for cats and catgirls. He's better known to sci-fi fans as Cordwainer Smith. One of the cover companies the Cats use is Cordwainer Heavy Industries. Another is the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.
- Sapient Tank: the protagonist recalls being converted into one of these during the wars he fought.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Subverted. Sam dies and leaves Reeve pregnant, and it looks like this trope... until we find out that his personality and memories were backed up just before the battle. Made more complicated by the fact that he chooses to be restored as his original female form, Kai. So is Sam dead? Depends on what you mean by "dead," and what you mean by "Sam"...
- Stock Weapon Names: "Vorpal blades" are likely an in-universe example.
- The Virus: Curious Yellow is a worm in Glasshouse that infects people when they pass through A-gates so they, in turn, infect other gates and other people. It not only erases blocks of memory, but erases the reason for what started the war in in the first place.
- Xanatos Gambit: Reeve tries to escape the Glasshouse, but gets caught and subtly brainwashed into a Stepford Smiler. However, before trying to escape she created a copy of herself, while also deleting her own memories of having done so. The Reeve-copy can plot the overthrow of the Glasshouse authorities at leisure since they now believe that Reeve's been neutralised.