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Bruce Sterling - MirrorshadesMirrorshades is an Anthology, edited by Bruce Sterling, with the hottest and most relevant (from his point of view in the midst of the vortex) Cyberpunk stories; all of which were originally published between 81 and 86. It's a good collection, but it reads differently nearly 20 years into the future. Hindsight is a lovely thing...

 The book kicks off with an essay by Sterling, displaying the history, influences, and forefathers of Cyberpunk, and his own definition of the genre. I beg to differ, but again, that's from a different, i.e. historical perspective. Still, if nothing else, this essay proves that I much prefer his fiction to his non-fiction.

 After the introduction the book contains the following stories:


William Gibson – The Gernsback Continuum

This is, on the one hand, a classic. On the other it never struck me as Cyberpunk. It's also not Gibson's strongest short story, in my opinion; but still an interesting treatise on a future which never was, except maybe in the common subconscious.


Tom Maddox – Snake-Eyes

George Jordan was supposed to be the human part of a war plane in the war in Thailand. A war which never happened, in the end. And now his Effective Human Interface Technology, which he was discharged with as it is non-removable, is acting up. 

Essentially it's the older parts of his brain taking over – something he calls “the snake”. He is taken to a space station, where he interfaces with Aleph, an AI. But Aleph's motives are not entirely clear, either...

This, in turn, is classic Cyberpunk in the vein of Gibson's Hinterlands.



Pad Cadigan – Rock on

It's the future of music – all music is mediated via a human called a 'Sinner' (short for synthesizer). This essentially does for music exactly what Gibson did for film (do you remember Kings of Sleep?). 

It is well written, disorienting, without too many explanations, the rest you have to work out for yourselves...


Rudy Rucker – Tales of Houdini

It's the future of entertainment; all gone wrong (think MacLeod's Execution Channel). Pathé are filming impossible escapes by Houdini, plus the distress at the sure-death setups by his wheelchair-bound mother . Disturbing. Not nice. And very recognizable in spirit, given the current entertainment industry.


Marc Laidlaw – 400 Boys

Post-Apocalyptic. Fights between gangs of children/adolescents with psychic powers. It's a weird story. The language is reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. And it's, in my opinion, definitely not Cyberpunk, again.


James Patrick Kelly – Solstice

This describes the life of Tony Cage, a _very_ famous and rich Drug Designer/Artist; and his daughter/clone/lover (neither of them is quite sure) Wynne. This is told in contra-point to the to history of exploration, excavation, and interpretation of Stonehenge. This is somehow meh. Nothing terribly bad, but it somehow did not work for me. And again, the Cyberpunk (or not ?) question poses itself...


Greg Bear – Petra

Mortdieu – God has died. Or, whatever held the Universe together and in shape has gone. Most places, most people did not survive the malleable physics of this new world.

The story plays in a Cathedral, where the people of the flesh, and the people of stone are forced to work out a way into the future, together, without repeating the old errors. It's a classic setting, and a rather cool story.


Lewis Shiner – Till Human Voices Wake Us

Campbell is a Corporate Citizen, in full burnout, and is sent for a recovery holiday to a corporate island, where there also is a secret research facility... got the picture? This is run-of-the-mill, not badly written but treading well-known ground, and thus not all that special or exciting.


John Shirley – Freezone

The future of music again, this time through the eyes of the 'out of fashion' anachronism, who refuses to change. That is, until the story takes a sharp left and transmogrifies into something entirely different. It has its moments, but overall this is not a very strong peace in my eyes.

Some research shows that this is an excerpt from a larger trilogy. This might explain some, but does not excuse any of the weaknesses…


Paul di Filippo – Stone Lives

Rags to riches story set in a world where big biz is the driving force over politics. Rather run-of-the mill, I rather felt.


Bruce Sterling/William Gibson – Red Star, Winter Orbit

With hindsight: one of the essential stories of Cyberpunk, by two authors central to the movement. It talks about the final days of the Soviet space station, and its inhabitants (including Korolev, the first man on Mars) in the light of crumbling structures at home, political tensions in the station, and the ever-present lure of Western Capitalism. Great stuff, and it stands the test of time!


Bruce Sterling/Lewis Shiner – Mozart in Mirrorshades

A free-styling, footloose romp of “we came from the future, we rape, steal, pillage, burn – all in the name of profit”.

With Mozart, Maria Antoinette, and Thomas Jefferson thrown in for local celebrity. And maybe, just maybe, Jesus really rode a Harley Davidson, but in this story it’s Ghegis Khan’s army which does so. Watch the world turn black in the prints of their tyres!

 More Bruce Sterling


 Title: Mirrorshades – The Cyberpunk Anthology

Author: Bruce Sterling

Reviewer: Markus

Reviewer URL:

Publisher:  Ace Books

Publication Date: 1988 (Ace) – original (Arbor) 1986

Review Date: 130513

ISBN: 0441533825

Price: USD 4.99

Pages: 239

Format: Paperback

Topic: SF

Topic: Cyberpunk



Iain Sinclair - Radon Daughters


Somtow Sucharitkul - The Throne of Madness


Peter Watts - Blindsight


Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner


Aliette de Bodard – In the Vanishers’ Palace


Doris Lessing – The Sirian Experiments


Tricia Sullivan – Occupy Me


Somtow Sucharitul – Starship & Haiku


Peter Watts – Maelstrom


Ken MacLeod - Cosmonaut Keep


Charles Stross - The Atrocity Archives


Ian Sales – Adrift on the Sea of Rains


Sydney Padua - The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage


Lavie Tidhar - Central Station


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