cover image Crystal Express

Crystal Express

Bruce Sterling. Arkham House Publishers, $18.95 (264pp) ISBN 978-0-87054-158-2

Sterling ( Islands in the Net ) is one of the very best young science fiction writers, and one of the foremost exponents of cyberpunk (he edited Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology ). His first collection brings together a dozen of his evocative, inventive, beautifully written stories. ``Spook'' tells of a future intelligence agent who is subjected to an operation that removes the psychologically limiting Veil implanted in his head, and then finds freedom untenable because it brings realization of all the suffering he has caused. ``The Little Magic Shop'' is a whimsical story about life-extending elixir, with a twist. Five of the stories are from the Shaper/Mechanist series, set in a future in which the two races war for the universe's resources. ``Swarm'' tells of a Shaper who craftily gathers some genetic material from the alien Swarm race with the intent of creating a slave population, but whose plans backfire spectacularly when his understanding of the Swarm proves less advanced than his technology. (Aug.)