cover image Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories

Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories

Bruce Sterling. Tachyon, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61696-329-3

Set largely in Turin, Italy, this urbane collection of seven stories from futurist Sterling (Pirate Utopia) reflects the author’s wholehearted embrace of both the post-human future and Italian culture. The narrator of the 2061-set “Kill the Moon” is charitably embarrassed by the sentimentality of his countrymen (“Why are we Italians the only people who still believe that space flight is romantic?”) as they giddily celebrate Italy’s belated mission to the moon. For readers unsatisfied with only one future Italy, “Black Swan” offers a tour through a series of alternate versions of the country, imagining a technologically advanced Italy built on the computer work of fantasist Italo Calvino but threatened by the skullduggery of underworld kingpin Nicholas Sarkozy. In “Pilgrims of the Round World,” a couple facing a long journey from 1463 Turin to the court of the Queen of Jerusalem in Cyprus argue over the value of art just as ferociously as a 2187 art dealer and a post-human anthropologist debate the nature of robotic creation in “Robot in Roses.” Sterling’s clever, compassionate work will appeal to fans of intelligent cyberpunk. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (Mar.)