One can be
reasonably suspicious of a novella whose alternate history is so
obscure, contorted, and bordering on the absurd that it needs
appendices to help us draw the connections but the overall effect of
PIRATE UTOPIA is more chilling that comical somewhat in the same way
as Lavie Tidhar’s almost equally absurd A MAN LIES DREAMING.
The idea of
brutality as policy crops up repeatedly in the many discussions that
makeup the intellectual heart of the story, and you can’t help but
read forward a century or so to see how such ideas persist even
PIRATE UTOPIA may
seem to be about an ancient and almost forgotten struggle between
Italy and Yugoslavia but its themes are as relevant as this year’s
Joe Gross in the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN mentions the book in We Look Ahead to November’s New Releases.
Hey, it’s some new fiction from Austin’s former don of science fiction. This alternate history novella includes a post-World War I Italian utopia (Sterling lives in Turin, Italy), flying boats, Harry Houdini as a secret agent, and no Hitler building up power in Germany (even if D’Annunzio is still around). With an introduction by Warren Ellis. Looks like a blast.
For more info on PIRATE UTOPIA, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and by John Coulthart