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Old 15th Aug 2008, 19:07   #61
gil
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Rewired - The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology

I'm not entirely convinced of the premise of this book, which purports to introduce a successor literary movement to cyberpunk. I always saw "cyberpunk" as being William Gibson's dirty future dominated by street ninjas, computer hackers and huge industrial corporations. For me, cyberpunk consisted of Gibson's "Sprawl" trilogy, the contents of Mirrorshades, and a few copycats. Even Gibson didn't see it as a literary movement as such. And cyberpunk isn't dead, as this anthology implies. Stories with a cyberpunk atmosphere are still cropping up, not least in this very anthology.

In point of fact, I think this is just a clever title to promote sales of the book, and some of the stories are just fine.

It kicks off with Bruce Sterling's Bicycle Repairman a classic cyberpunk tale, if ever I saw one.

Then there's Gwyneth Jones' Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland - fantasy dressed up as psychiatric therapy.

Jonathan Lethem contributes How we Got in Town and Out Again - distopia with Virtual Reality overtones.

Greg Bear's Yeyuka is a good tight story about third world medicine.

Then there's a contribution by Pat Cadigan whose title is about a paragraph long and which I abandoned when I began to yawn. The title includes the words "Little Latin Larry".

William Gibson's 13 Views of a Cardboard City is very well written, but it's more of an exercise in atmosphere than a story. If anyone can help me interpret this differently, please get in touch.

The Wedding Album by John Marusek started well, but it went on and on and the same applies to Daddy's World by Walter John Williams.

Michael Swanwick's The Dog Said Bow-Wow was excellent. Most entertaining world created there.

This was followed by Charles Stross's Lobsters - one of the stories that eventually became woven into Accelerando. I liked it, and it was one of the more entertaining parts of Accelerando, and very, to my mind, cyberpunkish.

Paul di Filippo's What's up, Tiger Lily? typified a certain type of sf short. It had a really good cool concept with a rather weak story surrounding it. I enjoyed the concept but the tale didn't satisfy.

Christopher Rowe The Voluntary State was arguably the most unusual and entertaining story in the anthology. It was really strange and out of left field. It reminded me of the effect that Samuel R Delaney's "Einstein Intersection" had on me, way back in nineteen sixty mumble. I didn't get it all, but I was left wanting to read it again.

Elizabeth Bear's Two Dreams on Trains was a little ordinary for my taste, especially following the Rowe story.

Paolo Bacigalupi Calorie Man. Nice premise, well told, ultimately satisfying.

Mary Rosenblum's Search Engine was a neat and interesting story centred on shopping databases.

Finally, Cory Doctorow contributed When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, a post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek little drama.

All in all, I felt I had my money's worth, even though I had already read two of the stories, and I shall look out for Christopher Rowe.
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Old 15th Aug 2008, 19:14   #62
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Default Re: sf

I remember thoroughly enjoying three of those stories--13 Views of a Cardboard City, The Wedding Album (though I agree it was a touch long), and The Dog Said Bow-Wow. I disliked the Red Sonja story, and didn't think that The Bicycle Repairman was anything special.

I will look for the Rowe story. Do you know where it was originally published?
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Old 16th Aug 2008, 12:00   #63
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Default Re: sf

Quote:
Do you know where it was originally published?
Well, there's a copy here, but the web page design is awful. It doesn't work for me in Firefox, and it's iffy in IE.

Correction: if you use Firefox and select View>Page Style>No Style, it appears in clear
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 9:05   #64
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That is a really interesting story, thanks for the link.
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Old 31st Oct 2008, 1:47   #65
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Gladiator-at-Law by Frederik Pohl and C.M.Kornbluth

This book, serialised in 1954, is a dystopia novel. It describes the efforts of an accidental group of misfits to wrest an essentially philanthropic company out of the hands of Big Business. The dystopic features include:
  • Circusses, after the Roman model, are an important feature of the world;
  • The stock market is operated by electric machines;
  • Model housing estates built in the 40s and 50s have descended into anarchy and ruin;
  • A few large corporate interests, operating behind shell companies, run the world's commerce,
Well, as future history goes, three out of four ain't bad. And what are Big Brother and I'm a Celebrity... other than mass entertainment in which the participants are humiliated and tortured? So let's give Pohl and Kornbluth three and a half out of four.

The authors belonged to a group of sf writers who included Asimov, Wollheim and Lowndes, and Pohl, much more recently, wrote one of the best factual accounts of what went wrong at Chernobyl.

As a story, it's not as good as I remembered, but it was important in its day as one of the sf books that didn't concern itself with the science so much as the fiction. Recommended if you like sf.
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