Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!
Italy! 1920's. A little town called Fiume that later becomes known as the modern Rijeka had had it's world turned upside down when a bunch of rag-tag ill-provisioned warriors took it over and declared themselves an Anarcho-Syndicalist Union, full of free love, art, poetry, high-ideals, and most of all, Rebellion. They even called themselves Pirates!
Now what if the whole thing hadn't imploded after 15 months, and instead had gone on to arm themselves successfully and innovate as they had dreamed, to become a real haven for free thinkers and equality of the sexes, ignoring the cries of the rich and the powerful as they gleefully took over all the manufacturing plants in a communist-like frenzy, but stopping there only to kick out all the actual communists?
They live by theft and live by their strength, fascists in fact, but not in spirit, for everyone is truly equal here.
Wow. As an SF novel, it's really quite gorgeous. I've been getting tired of all those overdone WWII alternate histories. This one is a beautiful strike in another direction, and it's humorous and it's scary and it pushes all the right buttons for me.
And it's also pulp in all the grand ways, too. :) Mussilini got his dick shot off while working as an editor, Hitler got shot and killed taking a bullet for a friend. There's even Houdini, the Spy, Lovecraft his employee, and also Robert E Howard working alongside them. I was hoping to see Clarke Ashton Smith among them, but alas, no. :)
I haven't been so delighted by such a strange book just tickling my sense of wonder in such a way as this. Bruce Sterling has gotten really interesting.
He's been living in Europe for the last decade, learning so much about these places, and also as an American Cyberpunk author now writing Dieselpunk, I have to say that he's pushing the envelope again. :) In a really awesome way. :)
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