ISLANDS IN THE NET by Bruce Sterling


Email this review


Following the fine Schismatrix (1985), cyberpunk guru Sterling presents a near-future power struggle where multinational nco-corporations tussle with quasi-terrorists and electronic pirates for control of the world. Early in the 21st century, the developed nations are inextricably linked in a worldwide computer/data Net. Having given up trying to compete with the Japanese industrial zaibatsu, the US has evolved ""corporate associates""--sort of multinational extended business families that have only ""things to do, and people to do them."" Threatening world stability are the data pirates, rival criminal syndicates and bankers independent of, and contemptuous of, the Net. So Rizome Industries, represented by Laura Webster, will attempt to reach an accommodation with the most. minatory pirates, who hail from Grenada, Singapore, and Europe respectively. But, at the conference, a leading Grenadian is assassinated; the Grenadians blame the Singaporeans and promise retaliation. Laura, in Grenada trying to sort out the mess, narrowly escapes death when Grenada is devastated by a surprise attack. Later, in Singapore, she survives a more frightening dirty-trick kind of assault--but she is captured and imprisoned by the real power behind all the unpleasantness: FACT, a super-terrorist outfit with connections to the global police. FACT has some left-over nuclear weapons (everyone else has disarmed) to brandish--but can Laura reach the Net and sound the alarm before FACT makes its subversive conquest a reality? About half of this--the latter half--is gripping and involving in the best Sterling manner. However, it does take a long time to get going, Some annoyingly preachy passages disfigure the narrative, and the proceedings fail to justify the conclusion. Patchy and disappointing work, then, but Sterling's standards are high, and this one's still way above average.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1988
Publisher: Arbor House/Morrow