Although earlier Williams' novels (like "Hardwired") meshed adventure and idea-SF, "Voice of the Whirlwind" is his most successful. Ostensibly, the novel is a murder mystery with a twist that is only available in SF--the detective is the deceased.
Steward is a clone whose memories are fifteen years out-of-date because his predecessor failed to update his brain recording before his last, fatal, assignment. As Steward attempts to regain his lost memories, Williams draws a picture of a believable future society where clones are available, if expensive; where wars are fought between corporations and the results monitored on the stock market; and where aliens and humanity live together in trade. Like his other novels, "Voice of the Whirlwind" is full of plot complications, and they are sufficiently interwoven to belie predictability.
Williams captures in "Voice of the Whirlwind" that sense of wonder all too rare in SF, by using a plot construct (clones) that many consider passe, and a (then) fresh and interesting genre (Cyberpunk).
Voice of the Whirlwind
Walter Jon Williams
1987, 278 pgs.
Here is the TEXT POPUP for Voice of the Whirlwind:
"My wife's still alive, correct?"
"She lives in orbit. She doesn't want to see you."
Steward frowned at the gray ceiling. "Why not?"
"We've been over this."
"I know you have the information. I need to know this. She must have given a reason."
There was a short pause that meant Ashraf was wondering which tack would be best in getting his patient to understand and accept the situation, what Ashraf referred to as "reality." Whether it was best to lay a ghost to rest, or pretend it didn't exist.
"She says," Ashraf said deliberately, "that she was used. Badly. And doesn't want to be used again."
Steward felt his nerves go warm. He felt, obscurely, the touch of
something important. "Used? How?"
"I don't have the information."
"Is that what the second wife said? What's her name, Wandis?"
Another little pause. "Yes. She said that he only manipulated
her, that she doesn't want to see you."
"It wasn't me."
"You must form your own attachments, Mr. Steward. The past is closed to you. And Wandis, to you, is only a name. She shouldn't mean anything at all."
Steward felt a little claw tugging at his mind, pointing at something significant, if only he could understand what it was.
"It wasn't me," he said again.