The Croatian START reviews the book.
Right on the track of the storyline of THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE, Sterling in PIRATE UTOPIA prints events in a “temporary free zone” in which the military occupation of the orchestra of Gabriele d’Annunzi did not stop but turned into a permanent technical-art lab that transforms futuristic manifestations and ideas In everyday reality, and residents futurist-soldiers are fighting against all forms of ideology, and engineers and poets collaborate on conceptual anarchist techno-projects. The book is inspired by Italian futurism, and when you get it in your hands you feel like a libretto of authors from the best years of visually-verbal experiments by Marinetti, Depera and others.
The book would be interesting to translate into Croatian language and to offer it as a model of interpretative thinking about the past, in a context that is still burdened with discomfort with irreconcilable versions of history. Perhaps this act, and also the translation of other similar literary attempts in the domain of alternative history, could stimulate public opinion on a more proactive social attitude towards past events. Unlike Cohen’s experimental (some hard and first postmodern) novel, Sterling’s traditionally structured, the only elements of the story and the overall concept are very strange, but again typical of his idea of alternative history.
The protagonists of one and the other novel are losers, but in Sterling’s novel, they do not know it yet. They know, when they end up in the broader perspective, as insignificant in the overall context of the global forces of political and media power, which nowadays produces alternative facts in real time, not just material for a future alternative history.
(Translation from Croatian courtesy of Google)
On his MORE RED INK, Marty Halpern discusses the book’s Sidewise Award nomination.
From the Awards’ website: “The Sidewise Awards have been presented annually since 1995 to recognize excellence in alternate historical fiction.” This year, Bruce Sterling’s PIRATE UTOPIA is among the six finalists in the Best Short-Form Alternate History category. The award winners will be announced on August 20, 2017.
Fortunately, PIRATE UTOPIA is still available in hardcover, which is a must-see format for the period-specific (and quite marvelous) illustrations by John Coulthart. I’ve posted some of these illos in my blog posts of June 14, 2016, and July 14, 2016. Keep in mind these few illustrations are only a sampling, but hopefully enough to give you a taste of what’s included in the book. (And let’s not forget that the book also includes an enlightening 1,000-plus-word essay entitled “Reconstructing the Future: A Note on Design” from the illustrator himself.)
For more info on PIRATE UTOPIA, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and images by John Coulthart