Bruce Sterling Schismatrix composed in 1984 [Sterling writes in the preface dated 1995 that he wrote the stories eleven years ago] could be read through the lens of the contemporary concern over contagion and the exchange of bodily fluids. Look:
She slipped arms inside his loose kimono. “Shaper,” she said, “I want your genetics. All over me.”
Her warm hand caressed his groin. He did what she said.
If it weren’t for the roaches, the Red Consensus would eventually smother in a moldy detritus of cast-off skin and built-up layers of sweated and exhaled effluvia. Lysine, alanine, methionine, carbamino compounds, lactic acid, sex pheromones: a constant stream of organic vapors poured invisibly, day and night, from the human body. Roaches were a vital part of the spacecraft ecosystem, cleaning up crumbs of food, licking grease.
In this fictional universe, the body can be imagined as a processor just as language can be imagined as processed.
This is the first book that I wrote on a word processor. […] Now I could do what I liked with words — bend them, break them, jam them together, pick them apart again.
Something fizzed loudly with a leaping of white-hot sparks. Startled, Lindsay braced to fight. Paolo was holding a short white stick with flame gnawing at one end. “A candle,” he said.
“Kindle?” said Lindsay. “Yes, I see.”
“We play with fire,” Paolo said. “Fazil and I.”
And so for day 255