Lincoln has just been released into the world by the Georges Organization, a corporation that raises creative types. A Smell, he has little prospect of succeeding as a visual artist. But after he moves into the Henry Building, he meets Luci, the weird and grimy girl who lives across the hall. She is a Sight. She is also the most disgusting woman Lincoln has ever met. Little does he know, she will soon become his muse.
Now Luci's boyfriend is threatening to kill Lincoln, two rival corporations are preparing for war, and Luci is dragging him along to discover the truth about the mysterious egg man who lives next door. Only the strongest will survive in this tale of individuality, love, and mutilation.
This novella contains example of the following Tropes:
- Artificial Afterlife: Heaven, Inc. offers its customers the chance to live on after death within the mind of a Megabrain.
- Bile Fascination: In-Universe. Everything about Luci grosses Lincoln out to no end - and he loves it!
- Bizarre Alien Reproduction: In the world of the novel, pregnancy results in the birth of a myriad of "fetus flies," tiny humans with wings, who fly off and live like wild animals across the urban landscape, with most of them dying before they're old enough to walk. The ones who do grow to the point where they resemble regular children are caught by one corporation or another and raised to become corporate citizens.
- Book-Ends: The story starts with Lincoln stepping on a half-dead fetus fly outside his apartment building. It ends with Lincoln lying half-dead outside of the hospital, being described in very similar terms to the fetus fly in the beginning.
- Central Theme: We are shaped by our biology, both individually and on a social level.
- Corporate Warfare: A turf war between two corporations break out during the course of the novel. This is seen as being in no way remarkable.
- Cyber Punk: Bordering on Bio Punk. Corporations rule the world, and openly go to war against each other. There doesn't even seem to be such a thing as a government. Also, people can volunteer to become giant living databases filled with the uploaded minds of other people.
- Dream-Crushing Handicap: Lincoln initially despairs of making it as a painter, since he's a Smell and most painters enjoy the benefit of being Sights. He eventually discovers a way of making his talents work for him, by mixing distinct scents into the colours he paints with.
- Mad Artist: Lincoln ultimately turns into this. He ends up killing his unfaithful lover and then painting a picture of her corpse while standing on a rooftop with corporate soldiers trying to break down the door and kill him.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted. Luci starts out as this, but the results of straight-laced Lincoln getting caught up in her energetic and carefree lifestyle are dire for both of them.
- The Muse: Luci is a highly unusual example. She inspires Lincoln like nothing else can, because everything about her is so raw and primal and, to him, absolutely revolting.
- My Brain Is Big: Megabrains like the Egg Man have been outfitted with massive brains that are too big to fit inside their craniums.
- The Nose Knows: As a Smell, Lincoln is capable of casually determining that there are exactly 17 distinct stenches afflicting his crappy apartment, and correctly identifying 16 of them (the seventeenth is one he's never encountered before).
- Personality Powers: Luci claims that people develop distinct personality traits depending on which of their five senses is the super-acute one. According to her, Smells are fussy and anal-retentive, Feels are perpetually horny, Tastes end up getting fat, Sounds are paranoid and Sights are always spying and snooping.
- The Pig-Pen: Luci is decidedly apathetic about her personal hygiene, which Lincoln, as a Smell, is painfully aware of whenever he's with her.
- Pride Before a Fall: At the end, Lincoln discovers that his wings are fully functional, and he soars up over the war-torn neighbourhood with his prized paintings, filled with a sense of superiority over the "ant-like" people below who aren't visionary artists like him... and then he gets shot with a gun and crashes to the ground, waking up in a hospital bed as a crippled wreck whose only remaining choice is between euthanasia and trying to get by as a beggar in a city where people only care about themselves.
- Super Senses: All humans have one sense raised to superhuman (by real-world standards) levels.
- Wetware CPU: Megabrains are used to store the uploaded minds of others, letting them live in an Artificial Afterlife where the Megabrain is the god.
- Winged Humanoid: All humans are potentially this, but most people get their wings amputated by the corporation that takes them in as a matter of course (in much the same way that boys in some parts of the world get circumcised). Lincoln is one of the few adults who still has his wings, though they're not much use since as a grown man he's too heavy to fly. Or so he thinks - at the end of the story, he discovers that he's actually capable of flight. Not that it helps him much.
- World of Jerkass: Everyone in the story only cares about themselves, possibly as a result of their Bizarre Alien Biology - rather than being raised by caring parents, infant humans have to fight for their personal survival against impossible odds, and as adults they continue with the same mindset.