A trip to Bruce Sterling’s PIRATE UTOPIA is worth booking
More praise for Bruce Sterling’s singular piece of work PIRATE UTOPIA.
KEN AND ROBIN TALK ABOUT STUFF recommends the book.
Alternate history diverges in 1919 with the arrival of the Pirate Engineer in d’Annunzio’s poetic-Futurist dictatorship in the Adriatic city of Fiume, although lots of other changes bubble up at the same time, such as H.P. Lovecraft becoming an advance-man for the U.S. Secret Service. Sterling never really advances his plot, preferring to curvette around the larger question of the appeal of fascism, but this trip to slightly-alternate Fiume is worth booking. The John Coulthart design and illustrations kick the book up to Recommended.
On his eponymous blog, Christopher East enjoys the novella.
Manic, gonzo, and politically charged, Pirate Utopia is a singular piece of work, mining obscure corners of history to vivid, surprising effect. The storytelling isn’t particularly streamlined, but sheer invention more than makes up the difference. Sterling’s pirate utopian antiheroes are rather appalling, but their ambitions are rendered palatable with buckets of quirky humor and clever alt-history easter eggs that insert historical figures at key moments, a kind of celebrity stunt-casting. The ending is abrupt, but services the larger political point of the piece, which seems particularly timely.
It should be noted that Pirate Utopia’s print release is beautiful, with exceptional art and design by John Coulthart. I suspect this will be one of those idea-driven works that doesn’t appeal broadly, but will delight a chosen few, particularly Sterling enthusiasts.
The book made the Borderlands November best seller list.
1. ARCANUM UNBOUNDED by Brandon Sanderson
2. REJECTED PRINCESSES by Jason Porath
3. GHOST TALKERS by Mary Robinette Kowal
4. INVISIBLE PLANETS edited by Ken Liu
5. PIRATE UTOPIA by Bruce Sterling
6. CROSSTALK by Connie Willis
7. DEATH’S END by Cixin Liu
8. THE BLOOD MIRROR by Brent Weeks
9. GOLDENHAND by Garth Nix
10. ALIEN MORNING by Rick Wilber
Emory Bookstore selected PIRATE UTOPIA as their book of the day for December 8.
For more info on PIRATE UTOPIA, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and illustrations by John Coulthart