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BURNING CHROME by William Gibson


by William Gibson

Pub Date: April 29th, 1986
ISBN: 0060539828
Publisher: Arbor House

Ten tales, 1977-85--Gibson's entire output to date--including three collaborations. The backdrop is, by now, a familiar one: a near-future of high-tech heavy metal, dominated by rapacious multinational corporations, and with a vast gulf between the haves and the have-nots--but where even the most pathetic lowlife is able to plug into the global "cyberspace" computer network. The stories here feature: a courier who carries, in his unconscious mind, secret computer programs that can be retrieved only with the correct code; a photographer who sees ghosts from a might-have-been future envisaged by the 1930's pulp science-fiction magazines; sensory hologram cassettes; corporate dirty tricks; and human/computer interfaces; Plus, in a more satisfying vein: astronauts disappear into a mysterious space-warp, only to return--after contacting alien civilizations-dead or insane the title piece, a computer-world battle over a vast fortune in illicit gains; barflies who turn into mutants capable of existing solely on alcoholic drinks (with John Shirley); Russian cosmonauts trying to prevent the abandonment of their orbiting space stations (with Bruce Sterling); and (with Michael Swanwick) dogfights with computer-projected WW I biplanes. These grim, often repetitious themes and scenes (as in the novels Neuromancer and Count Zero, p. 167) are set forth in highly textured but largely unevocative prose, and many readers will weary of the psychotic or merely unpleasant characters, the sheer ugliness of Gibson's visions. Alluring stuff--if you happen to be on Gibson's sharply delimited wavelength.