Title: A Good Old-Fashioned Future
Published: Gollancz 2001
Purchased: Waterstones, Cambridge, 2004-02-26, £6.99
This is a set of seven short stories, written between 1993 and 1998 and published in a variety of magazines. It's difficult to summarise short stories without giving too much away, but I was amused by Sacred Cow in particular, set in a post-BSE Britain whose population and economy have collapsed, and which involves a Bollywood film producer and his team travelling to Bolton of all places to find a cheap place to film. It was so reminiscent of the Goodness Gracious Me comedy sketch where Indian backpackers are travelling the great railway journey to Southend and ooing and ahing at the quaint natives. (In defence of Sterling, I think he got there first - this story was published back in '93.)
Also, the last three stories form an interesting triplet - they take place some years apart, but the main character in each is a minor character of the previous. The first takes place in Dusseldorf, during a chaotic and unplanned 'Werde', which is a sort of unpredictable momentary social catastrophe. Since I was travelling to Basel for Fasnacht at the time I was reading it, and Fasnacht is a planned chaos that takes over a German speaking city, the resonances were quite strong.
In general, good. There weren't any stories I found tedious (which can be the problem with some collections), and the playfulness with which Sterling approaches possible near futures is enjoyable. Light, sparkling and not too challenging, while not being predictable.