I have been a fan of Bruce Sterling’s work since his first novel, Involution Ocean, was part of The Harlan Ellison Discovery Series (#4) and I’ve read nearly all his published fiction (and much of his published non-fiction) since then. This collection of short stories is possibly my least favorite of his works.
As the book’s subtitle indicates, these stories are connected by location and culture. These are “The Italian Fantascienza Stories.” But what is confusing here is that author Bruce Sterling takes on a different (Italian) persona and writes as Bruno Argento – who is also a character.
My biggest disappointment is that the stories are so deeply intertwined with Italy that I feel like an absolute outsider. This is not my background or heritage, and that should be okay – I like learning about other cultures – but this is really Sterling’s (or Argento’s) love affair and I’m invited only to be an observer, not a participant.
The one story that I enjoyed was the final story, “Robot in Roses,” in which a robotic wheelchair making art offers up a lot of philosophical contemplation.
Overall, though, for me as a Bruce Sterling fan, I was highly disappointed.
This book contains the following:
“Storia, Futurità, Fantasia, Scienza, Torino” by Bruno Argento
“Kill the Moon”
“Elephant on Table”
“Pilgrims of the Round World”
“The Parthenopean Scalpel”
“Robot in Roses”
Afterword: “Bruce Sterling, Erudite Dreamer and Pirate” by Dario Tonani
Looking for a good book? Bruce Sterling’s collection, Robot Artists and Black Swans, is a series of Italian themed fantasy/science fiction stories that are mostly forgettable.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Robot Artists and Black Swans
author: Bruce Sterling
hardcover, 256 pages