cover image Visionary in Residence

Visionary in Residence

Bruce Sterling, . . Thunder's Mouth, $15.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-1-56025-841-4

The 13 entries in this welcome fourth collection from postcyberpunk Sterling (Distraction ) run the gamut from SF to ghost stories, but all deal with the impact of the strange, be it supernatural or scientific, on the individual. "Junk DNA" (with Rudy Rucker) deftly captures the fast-paced ethos of the 1990s, with its dot-com startups and meltdowns, as does "Code," in which a male computer geek, faced with that most troubling of all creatures, a woman, reduces our patriarchic civilization to a system he can hack. "User-Centric," told as a series of corporate e-mails among a team launching a new product, spins into something far odder as we learn what that product is. In an intriguing time-travel tale, "The Blemmye's Stratagem," an abbess and an assassin work for a man who can only be an alien. Sterling is that rare author who writes witty, humorous thought-experiments centered on great ideas. (Mar.)