Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I grew up knowing that this was supposed to be a great cyberpunk novel right in the heart of the genre as it was a few years after Neuromancer, and I did eventually get around to reading his novel with William Gibson, The Difference Engine, which was pretty much a steampunk novel.
Other than that, I kept berating myself that I'd never gone back and read what should have been a staple of the genre.
So what did I think?
He was well ahead of the curve when it came to predicting the future, pretty much nailing the EU, data havens and digital currency well back in the mid eighties. Back closer to that time, I'd probably be glorifying this novel as a predictive masterpiece.
Unfortunately, the story isn't strong enough to carry us through what is apparently our new norm.
It's great to read this novel from an archeological standpoint, seeing just how much he predicted that had come true, but beyond that it was just okay. Topless women and exploding buildings was pretty much the high-action points, imho. There really could have been some better character exploration and more interesting plots. That's pretty much the worst I can say about it. The tech seemed modern TODAY even though we're 30 years ahead from when it was written.
That's impressive as all hell. I could even trace a lot of the great elements that Neal Stephenson wrote about in Cryptonomicon a good fifteen years past this book. I wanted to applaud. But unfortunately, great ideas and a great heritage doesn't always prove to be a timeless classic, and that's a real shame.
I could see the outline of something that might have been a timeless classic. It's just a shame that it didn't make it.
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