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Crystal Express 1989/Schismatrix Plus 1996 by Bruce Sterling

New Age era of science fiction


In the New Age era of science fiction the general idea was that science and technology in the future would make the world a better place. Star Trek for example was set in a universe where Earth was united under a global government and there was no poverty or sickness. The Cyberpunk era was a reaction to this, a belief that advances in technology would benefit the elite but result in more unemployment and more oppression of the poor. The world of the New Age was clean and shiny. The Cyberpunk world was gritty and dirty. During these weeks we are looking at some classic Cyberpunk novels. This week, the Shaper/Mechanist universe of Bruce Sterling.

Crystal Express

Crystal Express

Short stories which depict worlds full of scientific advancement, genetic and surgical modifications of people, colonization of the solar system and alien contact. But they also show concern for the future of real people. The author’s books include “Involution Ocean” and “Islands in the Net”.

Schismatrix Plus

Schismatrix Plus

The Nebula-nominated novel of “a brave new world of nearly constant future shock”—plus all the short fiction of the Shaper/Mechanist universe (The Washington Post).

Acclaimed science fiction luminary and a godfather of the genre’s remarkable offspring—cyberpunk—Bruce Sterling carries readers to a far-future universe where stunning achievements in human development have been tainted by a virulent outbreak of prejudice and hatred.

Many thousands of years in the future, the human race has split into two incompatible factions. The aristocratic Mechanists believe that humans can only achieve their greatest potential through technology and enhancing their bodies with powerful prosthetics. The rebel Shapers view these “improvements” as abominations, and their faith in genetic enhancements over mechanical ones has led to violent, even murderous, clashes between the two sects.

One man is caught in the middle. The child of Mechanists, Abelard Lindsay is a former Shaper diplomat who was betrayed and cast out of the fold. Scrupulously trained in the fine art of treachery and deceit, he travels freely between the warring camps during his never-ending exile, embracing piracy and revolution all along the way. But while saving his own skin is Lindsay’s main motivation, a greater destiny awaits him, one that could offer a bold new hope for a tragically sundered humankind.

A breathtaking flight of unparalleled imagination, Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix Plus also includes every subsequent excursion into the Mechanist and Shaper universe, complementing his acclaimed novel with the complete collection of mind-boggling Schismatrix short fiction. The result is is a total immersion into the Mechanist/Shaper universe from the Hugo, Campbell, and Arthur C. Clarke Award–winning author called “a writer of excellent fineness” by Harlan Ellison and “one of the very best” by Publishers Weekly.

[assembled from Wikipedia and Goodreads]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at