Bruce Sterling’s entertaining ROBOT ARTISTS & BLACK SWANS is a fantastic fantascienza concoction of percolated ideas and concepts

With just about two months until publication, excitement mounts for Bruce Sterling’s ROBOT ARTISTS & BLACK SWANS: THE ITALIAN FANTASCIENZA STORIES. The book is currently available for pre-order from all finer booksellers or directly from Tachyon.

Cover and images by John Coulthart

KIRKUS praises the collection.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Sterling, most recently with the novella PIRATE UTOPIA (2016), a piece of what the Italians call fantascienza, an SF–adjacent combination of history and speculation. Here, he takes it to another level, labeling these seven stories as the work of Bruno Argento, his alter ego, a renowned dramatist who has driven the Italian subgenre into the mainstream.


A delightful mix of high fantasy and futuristic speculation featuring royalty, noblemen, bandits, and other scoundrels.

For STARBURST, Nigel Watson feels much the same.

Like a fancy and metaphorical Italian coffee making machine, Bruce Sterling takes the raw materials of Italian society, culture, technology, science and history and blends it into a series of short stories.

The result is a fantastic fantascienza concoction of percolated ideas and concepts.


These complex fantasies of Italy relate to universal truths and desires conjured up by Texan Bruce Sterling’s alter ego Bruno Argento as he sips his Lavazza Red coffee with a well-selected pasta. Bravo.

Joe Karpierz in THE MT VOID (Vol. 39, No. 27, Whole Number 2152) was pleasantly surprised by the stories.

A lot of punch is packed into these seven stories. I didn’t know what to expect out of this collection, but in the end I was thoroughly entertained. If Bruno Argento does indeed exist, then the residents of Italy are lucky to have him.