BooksOfTheMoon

Schismatrix Plus

By Bruce Sterling

Rating: 3 stars

This volume collects the novel Schismatrix and all the short fiction set in the universe, starting with the novel. I’m not sure that it might not have been better to reverse the order and put the short stories first, giving you a more gentle introduction to the world, since the novel does throw you in at the deep end. It follows a natural born human called Abelard Lindsay, who is trained as a diplomat by the Shapers – those who have genetically reshaped their genetic heritage, in opposition to the Mechanists – those who use mechanical augmentation to enhance themselves. Lindsay is exiled from his home and finds himself travelling the solar system in order to, er, well, I’m not really sure. Survive? Thrive? Get revenge?

The action jumps around from lunar orbit, to the outer planetary rings, and there are sometimes large jumps in time. This sort of stuttering narrative makes it difficult to get a handle on what’s happening (not helped by my own intermittent reading of the book) and made it less likely for me to want to pick it up again. I did eventually get properly into the story towards the end of the novel, but it took quite some time.

The short stories are easier, both because they focus on a single story, without the sprawling feel of the novel, and perhaps because several of them touch on characters or themes that I had previously read about from a different angle in the novel.

I mostly read this because several authors whose work I like cited this as an inspiration. I think this may reward rereading but to be honest, I don’t feel that, for me, it would be worth the effort.

Book details

ISBN: 9780441003709
Publisher: Ace Books
Year of publication: 1995

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