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Schismatrix Plus

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  3,349 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Schismatrix Plus, is Bruce Sterling's new trade paperback. For the first time in one volume: every word Bruce Sterling has ever written on the Shapers-Mechanists Universe.

In the last decade, Sterling has emerged a pioneer of crucial, cutting-edge science fiction. Now Ace Books is proud to offer Sterling's stunning world of the Schismatrix--where Shaper revolutionaries stru
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by Ace (first published January 1st 1995)
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Neuromancer by William GibsonSnow Crash by Neal StephensonThe Diamond Age by Neal StephensonDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickAltered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Best of Cyberpunk
36th out of 250 books — 947 voters
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Most Under-rated Science Fiction
190th out of 1,156 books — 1,417 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 07, 2016 Terry rated it it was amazing
What a great read this was. I've never been much of a fan of cyberpunk and I'm not particularly a fan of the authors generally noted to be founders of the genre (William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, etc.), but I really loved this book and it has put Bruce Sterling near the top of my list for sci-fi writers. Sterling does an excellent job of melding his cyberpunk ethos with a space opera-ish background that is combined with the 'Grand Tour' of the solar system structure (cp. The Ophiuchi Hotline by J ...more
The moment I read in Galactic North that Alastair Reynolds acknowledged Schismatrix as a huge influence in developing his Revelation Space series, I knew I had to eventually track it down. Four years later, eventually finally happened.

So let me first of all clarify the difference between Schismatrix and Schismatrix Plus. The Plus edition has five short stories set in the Schismatrix universe along with the novel length title story. These short stories were enjoyable- especially Swarm which brou
A bizarre absurdist bourgeois epic set in the space kindgom of the posthuman con artists. Features hyperbole and sharp dark humor.

As scientific and technological advances shatter the limitations which define modern thought and sustain the existence of a single human community, rugged individualists and pretentious youths boldy reach for transcendance.
But as it turns out, it's bourgeois property relations which end up transcending the material conditions that sustained them. Commodity fetichism d
Jul 21, 2008 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who don't mind good literary technique
Shelves: genre, scientific
Another goodreads reviewer wrote: "It is creative, but one of the characteristics of this book is that the author writes as if the story is happening in our present world, so he does not define words and key elements just as an author writing in the present wouldn't define terms they assume are collective knowledge." They gave this book one star. One star!

It's times like these I realize how crazy some people are. The above technique is one of the marks of good science fiction, as opposed to the
I had written Bruce Sterling off as a relic of the cyberpunk era, big mistake. The wow factor is pretty big on this. Mind mutating, WTF, idea per sentence science fiction with shades at time of Bester, Triptree jr. Delaney, Barrington J. Bailey(who blurbs it) William S. Burroughs, and Ballard. Dense, filled with absurd humor and grotesque surreal visions, as human future and form breaks and cascades into increasing odd shapes. I feel a little buzzed after finishing this. This and a couple of sho ...more
Jun 14, 2016 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Alastair Reynolds said, in one of his Revelation Space books, that Bruce Sterling’ Schismatrix had a huge influence on his works and recommends it as one of the best cyberpunk stories. Of course it piqued my interest and now, after I read it, I have to say he was right - at least about the influence part.

It is obvious that Shaper/Mechanist universe stands at the base of Conjoiners/Demarchists one and that the somber atmosphere is the one encountered mostly in Chasm City. But the similarities bet
Jun 21, 2016 Jules rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[somewhere at the bottom of a well]
"Steve! Steve, wake up! Come on, Steve, we got work to do. Steve!"
"Senhor, is that you shouting? It's two in the morning. I was sleeping. Who died, where is burning?"
"Nonsense, Steve. It's two in the midnight. Come, we have work to do. We're back in business, I have a review to write and you're staring in it. I'll tell you the plan on the way, come, come."
"Senhor, you're an asshole."
"I know it, the Queen gave me a medal for it, that's why I'm a sir."
Steven Shaviro
Jan 22, 2015 Steven Shaviro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SCHISMATRIX PLUS is one of Bruce Sterling's early novels, long unavailable, and now back in print as an ebook. (The "Plus" indicates that the book also includes a bunch of short stories set in the same future world as the novel itself). This novel has much more of a far-future setting than the bulk of Sterling's subsequent work. It follows the adventures of the main character, Abelard Lindsay (though at times he uses many other names) from being a 20-something rebel to being the 200 years old or ...more
Oct 16, 2012 Ryan rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book based solely on Alastair Reynolds insane props:

"I owe an equally obvious debt to Bruce Sterling, whose 'Shaper/Mechanist' sequence blew my mind on several levels. Sterling's future history, even though it consists of only a single novel and a handful of stories, still feels utterly plausible to me twenty years after I first encountered it. Part of me wishes Sterling would write more 'Shaper/Mechanist' stories; another part of me admires him precisely for not doing so. Read
May 13, 2016 Chloe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Futures geeks and adrenaline junkies
Recommended to Chloe by: Colin
This was the science fiction odyssey that I've been longing to read all summer. I'm glad that I finally found one that captivated me from start to finish as I was starting to think I might be burnt out on the genre- a frightening thought.

Sterling's book collects a number of stories all set within his Shaper-Mechanist universe, with his first novel Schismatrix forming the backbone of the story. Following humankind's ascent into the stars, Sterling creates two competing directions for our evolutio
This book includes not just Schismatrix, but also a handful of short stories set in the same universe.

Schismatrix itself I'm going to review separately, because there's so much to talk about, so in this review I will focus on the short stories and what they add to the experience of reading Schismatrix.

There are five stories: "Swarm," "Spider Rose," "Cicada Queen," "Sunken Gardens" and "Twenty Evocations."

Swarm - a suspenseful tale in the classic tradition of "hunter becomes prey" stories; it f
Oct 05, 2007 C.S. rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: only people who like cyberpunk or who dress like their in the Matrix
The cyberpunk movement is one I will never be able to get into. It is creative, but one of the characteristics of this book is that the author writes as if the story is happening in our present world, so he does not define words and key elements just as an author writing in the present wouldn't define terms they assume are collective knowledge. It bored me.
Mar 13, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it
The novel itself is the bulk of this volume, a complex winding story that works somewhere between world-building bravado and humanist parable. Some moments are sloppy and confusing but the story is powerful and sweet and catches some truth I don't often expect to find in fiction. Wish I knew more about the what the author had in mind for the theater here, there's something beyond the obvious that I haven't quite grabbed.

The attached stories would be weak on their own, but add interesting color t
A. S.
Mar 29, 2016 A. S. rated it it was ok
The huge issue with this book is the fact that the story is told as if the reader is present and infinitely familiar with the social, political, and technological developments in the Shapers/Mechanists universe. Sterling occasionally has a a moment where another character talks about what's going on on the various planets (like when Ryumin or Greta Beatty gives him a quick tour of their world), and those parts read smoother than the rest of the novel. In sci-fi and fantasy, world-building is inc ...more
Jul 11, 2012 zxvasdf rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This has got me scratching my head at the definition of cyberpunk. The picture everyone has is pretty much console cowboys navigating some virtual reality dreamscape from a gritty rough and tumble noirish realspace. If that's cyberpunk, then Sterling has taken the pretension way past its defined forms.

Schismatrix is centrally about a political and violent conflict between two general factions of humanity, one of whom prefer genetic alterations over the cybernetic modifications of the other. Our
J'avais lu ce livre il y a déja quelques années, et en avait étéé positivement émerveillé. Car après la déferlante du cyberpunk, Sterling nous revenait avec une oeuvre aux dimensions épiques, embrasssant dans sa fresque futuriste de très nombreuses visions de l'humanité et une rencontre avec les extra-terrestres.

J'ai cette fois-ci été un peu plus touché par le côté humain du personnage principal (auquel on ne peut décement pas donner le titre de héros, puisqu'il passe l'essentiel du roman à fuir
Sep 06, 2012 Jerico rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best examples of a stitch-up job in science fiction (the other best one, off the top of my head, is the first volume in Asimov's Foundation series). A stitch up job is when a bunch of short stories are Frankensteined together into a single 300-page-ish volume. Most of the good 'Great SF books' at least started as stitch ups because that was the way to establish yourself in the market (sell short stories, turn those stories into your first book/series).

In Schismatrix, Sterling
The Haunted Reading Room  [#VoteCthulhu Why Choose the Lesser Evil?]

Collecting the original novel (SCHISMATRIX) plus 5 short stories and the author's Prologue, SCHISMATRIX PLUS constitutes the sum total of what author Bruce Sterling intended to write of the Shaper/Mechanist Universe. What I came away with (this being my first reading of Mr. Sterling, one of the founders of "Cyberpunk") is an impression of a universe where, like ours, hard heads and stubbornness prevail, and where two opposing ideologies butt heads like t
Alexander Veee
"Knowledge was power. And in seizing knowledge, humanity had gripped a power as bright and angry as a live wire. At stake were issues vaster than any before: the prospects were more dazzling, the potentials sharper, and the implications more staggering than anything ever faced by humanity or its successors.

Yet the human mind still had its own resources. The gifts for survival were not found only in the sharp perceptions of the Shapers, with their arsenals of brain-stretching biochemicals, or th
Jul 17, 2015 Nathanial rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, cyberpunk
One of my criticisms of Sterling's Islands in the Net was that it felt kind of tied down, the ideas not really given reign to fly, and overall just kind of fizzling but never shining. I think Schismatrix Plus is a wonderful turnaround, in which Sterling isn't tied down at all, as characters and ideologies advance through space and time. In fact, it's a story that starts in a very different place from where it ends, like Childhood's End or its like. I appreciate works that take the daring approac ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing
This is a most difficult read. If you're considering reading this book, be forewarned - information overload is the name of the game. This is not confusing in a modernist stream-of-consciousnessness Joycean sort of way; it's just confusing in that the information and exposition are delivered so quickly, in so few words, you may have to reread several paragraphs numerous times before the facts finally "click."

But when they do, and you suddenly understand, your brain will glow with new knowledge,
Zeb Kantrowitz
Mar 26, 2015 Zeb Kantrowitz rated it really liked it
Sterling is one of the fathers of cyberpunk and is usually credited with coming up with the name itself. He began writing a series of stories set in the Shaper/ Mechanist solar systems in the 1970s. This book includes the novel “Schismatrix” and all of his short stories from that universe. Mechanists use computer-based technologies and prosthetic implants (think Borg from Star Trek) to enhance humans. While the Shapers do genetic engineering to create people who are compatible with space.

Grigory Lukin
Jan 05, 2015 Grigory Lukin rated it it was amazing
Bruce Sterling is considered by many to be the creator of the cyberpunk genre, and Schismatrix Plus is one of his greatest works and a must-read for all cyberpunk fans and enthusiasts.

This volume features the novel and the short stories that take place several centuries in the future: mankind has settled all over the solar system and split into two groups, Mechanists and Shapers. Mechanists believe in using technological implants to increase lifespan and grant humans new abilities, whereas Shape
Dee Maselle
Jul 07, 2016 Dee Maselle rated it liked it
This was my third attempt at reading Schismatrix Plus over the past 15 years: I tried one more time because a respected writer-friend adores it. I made it through this time, and eventually it grew on me--especially the diverse, colorful, textured short stories following the strange decades-hopping Schismatrix novel. I can't get past the fact that some of the dialogue is oddly manifesto-like and unnatural, even between sexual/romantic partners, so three stars rather than four.
Dec 23, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s a war on. On the battlefields of ideology, you must choose between humanity’s numerous factions, the most important being the Shapers—those who alter their bodies through genetic modification and mental training—and the Mechanists—those who modify their bodies through computer software and external prosthetics (e.g., cyberware). In this balkanized future, countless schisms continue to divide posthumans into branching splinter groups based on technology and philosophy. Abelard Lindsey sho ...more
Dan Smith
Nov 05, 2015 Dan Smith rated it it was ok
I just couldn't get into Schizmatrix. The author is clearly bursting with ideas, and desperate to get them onto the page, but in doing so forgot to make the story interesting or the characters all that sympathetic. There are some SF writers who excel at plunging the reader into a universe of strange concepts and assumptions, where the first few chapters are a satisfyingly bewildering experience. For others its like waking up at the wheel in the rain with a carful of yelling drunken overcaffeinat ...more
Dec 02, 2012 Nicolas rated it it was amazing
Un livre exigeant, mais qui vous fait voir une humanité dépasse par son propre futur. Une inventivité rare, Bruce sterling réinvente le livre univers.
Jun 20, 2013 Gwern rated it it was amazing
Quite remarkable. One of the best solar system colonization universes with a baroque and cyberpunk-inflected computer/biology split.
Aug 21, 2007 Andy rated it really liked it
It's funny, I've never been able to get into anything else Bruce Sterling has written, but this one remains one of my favorites.
Luis Gallardo
Jan 07, 2014 Luis Gallardo rated it liked it
No fue lo que me esperaba. La novela es básicamente un "grand tour" del sistema solar y las épocas de la Schismatrix, con apenas una ligera capa de argumento que no acaba de llegar a ningún lado. Los cuentos, en especial Swarm, Spider Rose, Twenty Evocations, son mucho mejores. No me parece una buena señal cuando es solamente tras leer los cuentos que se da uno cuenta de la importancia y el verdadero significado de varias porciones de la novela, cosas tan fundamentales como la verdadera naturale ...more
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Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his seminal work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.
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“Do you remember, Abelard... Once I told you that ecstasy was better than being God."
"I remember."
"I was wrong, darling. Being God is better.”
“Let's throw his ass out the airlock," suggested the Speaker of the House.
"We can't do that," said the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was a feeble old Mechanist who was subject to nosebleeds. "He is still Secretary of State and can't be sentenced without impeachment by the Senate."
The three Senators, two men and a woman, looked interested. The Senate didn't see much action in the government of the tiny Democracy. They were the least trusted members of the crew and were outnumbered by the House.”
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