cover image Zeitgeist


Bruce Sterling. Spectra Books, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-553-10493-6

Rife with profound ruminations on the ""master narrative"" of life, Sterling's newest evokes vestiges of his collaboration with William Gibson (1991's The Difference Engine) as he journeys back to 1999 to detail the escapades of Leggy Starlitz and his latest marketing triumphDthe G-7 girls. Using his international girl band to move products such as G-7 lip gloss, candies and sparkly pantyhose, Starlitz embarks on a glamorous Third World tour that skids to an abrupt halt in Turkish Cyprus. Although the dialogue riffs along energetically while Starlitz and Turkish millionaire mobster Mehmet Ozbey discuss the future of G-7, politics and life's ""deepest truths,"" fans of Sterling's fast-paced thrillers will find little suspense or intrigue in this experimental piece. Starlitz passively steps aside, allowing Ozbey to use the band as a front for his illicit negotiations, and dutifully assumes the role of father when his lesbian ex-wife suddenly appears with his telekinetic daughter in tow. Abandoning Cyprus to conjure up his ""Javanese Navajo"" father (who dematerialized as a result of being too close to an atomic bomb test in the '50s), Starlitz travels to New Mexico and stages mock-Christmas festivities. When the G-7 girls begin to die, however, Starlitz returns to Cyprus to engage in another aimless battle of wits with Ozbey. Although this tragicomedy resonates with Sterling's striking prose and strong characterizations, these do little to salvage a tale that reads more like a disjointed dream than a cohesive narrative. Nevertheless, Sterling's strong following will certainly buoy the sales of this leaden sinker. (Nov. 7)