Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holy Fire

by Bruce Sterling

A disappointment, unfortunately. While The Caryatids wasn't perfect it was effective and interesting enough to look forward to more Sterling but (as with Kiernan) I've found an earlier work much less satisfying. Here the problem is the story is too plotless, much of the work being just a way for the character's experiences to explore aspects of the new technology and society. Fine as far as it goes, but at this point neither the technology nor the society seem impressive enough to hang the work on. I suppose at the time it was written the application of cyberpunk for a more optimistic future was impressive, but I found it underwhelming. The beginning was engaging, but after the first fifty pages I spent most of the book waiting for Sterling to do more with his story than he seemed interested in.

I expect a bit more scacle to my science fiction of this tye. If a work is going to construct a unique world it’s better for it to truly feel unique and be more fleshed out. As was I didn’t have any trouble seeing it as different than the present, and different from the whole Gibson vision of the future, but I needed another layer beyond that to truly connect to it as an interesting world. The characters and basic plot were better, but a little too by the numbers, and ultimatley folded into the setting in a way that reinforced the main issue I had with it, there being a certain point where the story seeemed to expect for surprise than the story summoned in me.

Better than: Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer
Worse than: The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling

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