Monday, October 25, 2021

63. Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling

I've never read a Bruce Sterling book, which is sort of a big omission since I am of the cyberpunk generation.  Neuromancer blew my mind at 15.  Found this in the free shelf on Waverly and thought it would be a good opportunity to rectify that omission. I don't really know how I feel about this book.  It's not bad, but I didn't really get the point of it.  It doesn't follow the typical narrative structure of a novel, which is not a bad thing at all.  There just wasn't enough in it for me to really get caught up in the storyline and the main character.  That being said, there were several neat ideas and moments that gave me things to ponder in an enjoyable sci-fi way.  

It takes place at the end of the 21st century, about a hundred years from the 1990s when it was written.  The idea is that medical advancements have gotten humanity to be almost immortal. The world is run by the polity who maintains health and order.  The idea is that the old people stay in control and the world cannot really evolve culturally anymore.  It's a post-scarcity society but the young people all feel trapped and limited.  I didn't really feel convinced by this.  The protagonist is Mia an old civil servant who has always played it safe.  She gets a radical new treatment that makes her young again and then decides to break free, flees to europe and joins various culture and fashion groups and does somewhat wild things.

So you learn about the dissatisfaction of the youth from her meetings with said youth, but you don't really get to see it.  Mia's rebelliousness is also inconsistent.  Part of it is that you don't know how much of her behaviour is because of the treatment and how much is just her.  That is okay but none of it really amounted to anything. There is a lot of discussion about art.  She becomes a hit fashion model, then tries to be a photographer.  There is also a side story of a virtual castle that is bequeathed to her by an old boyfriend that doesn't really go anywhere.  Now that I think about it, it feels like this book was more a collection of ideas and semi-stories that never got held together fully. I wonder which is the Bruce Sterling I should read?

Note to self: be wary of books with review blurbs using the words "haunting", "lyrical" and "triumph".

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