by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, eds.
A Readercon purchase, this anthology collects later work of noted Cyberpunk writers and a few post-cyberpunk notables.
Bacigalupi’s “The Calorie Man” is an intriguing first cut at the central plot of The Windup Girl. Where The Windup Girl’s Jaidee finds himself in the midst of a procedural thriller, here we have a Run To Freedom, the backstory of Neuromancer or “The New Rose Hotel.” It’s well done, though the tone is exactly like The Windup Girl and Ship Breakers.
Doctorow’s “When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth” is solid Doctorow, describing a disaster that leaves pudgy, unkempt internet maintenance people in charge of everything. Di Filippo’s “What’s Up Tiger Lilly?” is close in spirit: a mega-rich inventor who is otherwise callow and feckless is forced by circumstances to get out and do things. Both try to replace the heroic punks of early cyberpunk with credible techies, and both ultimately condescend to the unfortunate characters whose failing is that they know stuff and upon whom the writer must therefore inflict suitable torments. Elizabeth Bear’s enigmatic “Two Dreams On Trains” explores the street artist’s dilemma: you can be famous, everyone knows your work, but they’ll haul you off to jail nonetheless. It’s a fine story, but Banksy lived it already: do we need spaceships?