cover image Ascendancies: The Best of Bruce Sterling

Ascendancies: The Best of Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling, . . Subterranean, $38 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-113-2

Sterling (Visionary in Residence: Stories ), the godfather of cyberpunk, demonstrates his full range, from far future to forgotten past, in this well-stocked career-spanning collection of his finest SF pieces. His blend of uncompromising realism and irrepressible optimism shows up wherever his protagonists do, whether working for a stranded alien in Crusader-era Palestine (“The Blemmye’s Stratagem”), investigating a mock space journey inside the cavern left from a Chinese H-bomb test (“Taklamakan”) or just hanging around (literally) in 2037 Chattanooga, fixing bikes and foiling a black ops agent out to protect her senile senator boss (“Bicycle Repairman”). Sterling is both Cassandra and Scheherazade, always forced to spill the ugly truths about what’s to come in spite of our unconcern, but always willing to see if the doom can be held off for another night by one more good story. Readers who like a hard-eyed view of the future combined with a wry wink at the past, with a few inventive postmodern narrative kicks mixed in, will be greatly rewarded. (Aug.)