A Good Old Fashioned Future by Bruce Sterling
Seven stories, all previously published in magazines between 1993 and 1998.
All stories are the work of Sterling with the exception of one, "Big Jelly" which was co-authored with Rudy Rucker.
I liked this anthology a lot despite the fact that some stories were rather weak. Some of the stories seem to have been written by extrapolating current events into the future and these, like "The Littlest Jackal" are the weakest in the collection. The stories that extrapolate technology are the ones that make the book worth while.
The last three are set in the same world and they follow the largely unrelated exploits of a group of people living on the edge of a highly technological society. I felt as though the author was taking some of the people that he met while writing "The Hacker Crackdown" and then dropping them into the middle of the 21st century. These are three great stories.
It is interesting to compare these three stories with the novel Distraction. They are dealing with similar themes and it would be no surprise to read them blind and discover that the same author had written both the novel and the short stories. However, the three short works are far far better than the novel.
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Eight out of ten. Let down by two stories but the others were very good indeed. Especially the Deep Eddy three at the end.
"Maneki Neko" is set in a near future, world dominated by the net and peoples lives are increasingly governed by their assortment of electronic gadgets which are taking subtle control over the world with surprising consequences. This is a really great story.
In "Big Jelly" we see the result of a collaboration between a mad scientist and a Texan megalomaniac. (I'm actually referring to the characters and not the authors but who's counting!) Great stuff.
As I read "The Littlest Jackal" I hoped that this would be the worst story in the book. The author seems to have set himself the goal of mentioning as many people, events and places from the world of terrorism and modern politics as he can. So we get Leila Khaled, Walid Jumblatt, Black Helicopters and Chechnya. The plot is set around a coup on the Aland islands. OK, the author seems to have done a lot of research and then he misplaces Helsinki north of the Arctic circle so that the sun does not set in the summer. If I am going to have to read unprofessional writing, I don't see that I should pay for it.
"Sacred Cow" is set in a UK devestated by BSE and sees the world dominated by India and Japan. It follows the fortunes of an Indian film maker setting out to produce some quick and cheap films in the UK. Really, I had to ask what was the point of this?
"Deep Eddy" is another highlight of the book. We follow the adventures of Deep Eddy over a crazy weekend spent in the Germany city of Dusseldorf during an outbreak of anarchy. Deep Eddy is a rather too cocky nerd but you cannot help but like the guy.
"Bicycle Repairman": is set in the same world as "Deep Eddy" and follows Eddy's ex-room mate a couple of years after Eddy left for Europe. This is another great story. Lots of interesting technology and characters and a good plot.
"Taklamakan" is the final story in the book and it is also set in the world of Deep Eddy. This sees a character introduced in "The Bicycle Repairman" take centre stage in a clandestine investigation into a secret base in a central Asian desert. Again, the story is dripping with the tech and social disintegration of the earlier works. I loved all three of these tales. #