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Tea from an Empty Cup


"How can you drink tea from an empty cup?"
-- Ancient Zen riddle

Tea from an Empty Cup is Pat Cadigan's fourth novel. It was published in 1998.

The book was called The Future Japan Novel during its writing, and then given the title Bunraku by Pat upon submission. Bunraku is a kind of Japanese puppet theatre, which features in the book. Briefly the title These Perfect Worlds was toyed with, before her editor at HarperCollins in London agreed Tea from an Empty Cup.

Tea from an Empty Cup was also the title of one of Pat's earlier stories. She used some material from the story, and from another called "Death in the Promised Land", and reworked it to form part of the novel. Both stories were published by Omni On-Line, and "Death" was reprinted in Asimov's. "Tea" has been published in a DAW books anthology, in December 1997, called Black Mist and Other Japanese Futures, edited by Orson Scott Card and Keith Ferrell.


Tea from an Empty Cup blends mystery, detection and questions of identity in a fascinating thriller. In the near future, Japan has been destroyed by earthquakes, its people distributed around the globe. But there are rumours in the world of Artificial Reality that beneath the fantasies of Post-Apocalyptic Noo Yawk Sitty and other adventure scenarios, there lurks a secret and hidden level - a recreation of old Japan. The catch is it is only accessible by a full-blooded Japanese. Someone like Yuki.

Yuki is looking for her old friend Tom - who may be dead, may have found the secret level, or may have performed some ultimate escape into Artificial Reality. At the same time police detective Dore Konstantin is investigating the latest in a strange series of deaths in AR - one featuring someone whose virtual character is Japanese.



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