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Islands in the Net

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  3,381 ratings  ·  61 reviews
In the high-tech twenty-first century, a family of "corporate associates" descends into an underworld of data pirates and bootleg biogenetics to discover the identity of new-order terrorists.
Paperback, 396 pages
Published March 1st 1989 by Ace (first published July 1988)
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Community Reviews

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Okay, we don't have personal watch-phones. We have personal phone-watches instead. Big deal.

The trajectory of this book, the whiff of cynicism, menace, strangeness, and internationalism -- it's basic arguments about the future of power, all of them are still relevant and still have the power to explain parts of the world.

You can hear Sterling's prose learning from the textural techniques of William Gibson, and benefitting from them, but the raw intellectual content of this book outst
People seemed to miss the boat on this one. Badly in need of a reissue, ditch the atrocious cover and update the text a little bit and this would be cutting edge or at least comfortably contemporary. Like Brunner or Moorcock’s Cornelius stories(and peer/co-conspirator Gibson) this takes a sci-fi lens to contemporary culture and stretches into plausible shapes. Sterling pretty much nails it(yes he gets some wrong but not enough to discredit the rest), with Globalism, the rise of the third world i ...more
Sep 19, 2007 Seth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cyberpunks, social theorists, terrorist fiction fans
Reading Islands in the Net now, it may take a minute to figure out why it's a cyberpunk classic. There is very little VR, and what is there is not described in detail. Most of the book is off the grid (but then again, much of Neuromancer is, too). The heroine isn't a hack, programmer, or counterculture sympathizer, in fact, she's a corporate worker.

But read further in and you'll see that it's about the essential cyberpunk issues. Corporations consolidating power and those who don't get any. The
Me atrajo de él el hecho de que era una de las primeras novelas cyberpunk. Sin embargo, como a tantas otras novelas de esa época, les pasa que el tiempo no las ha tratado muy bien. Dicho lo cual, el trasfondo de luchas entre corporaciones, grupos terroristas y estados más o menos piráticos es interesante y tiene aún cierta actualidad. Eso sí, quienes esperen un Neuromante o un Snow Crash, con vívidas descripciones de la realidad virtual y/o Internet, van a quedar muy decepcionados, puesto que no ...more
Jeffrey Hart
The theme here is how island developing nations might choose to become homes for illegal and quasi-legal information technologies and services, hence the title. The story deals with a particular type of dystopia that accurately mirrors the real world of island nations like Nauru, home of long-distance telephone scams, and Romanian PayPal scam artists operating out the the London suburbs. A similar theme is developed in Neal Stephenson's Economicon.
Has not aged as well as Gibson's work. I'm not certain what's more jarring, Sterling's enthusiasm for both nanotech and fax machines, or Star Trek's matter/energy conversion but inability to heal a spine.
Nelson Minar
Somehow in catching up on all that cyberpunk reading last year I skipped over Sterling. So I went to him, with the one I'd heard the most about - Islands in the Net. It's an ok book, enjoyable to read. The spin on cyberpunk here is odd, maybe a bit interesting - the politics of the information future, the dominance of terrorist / pirate states. The narrative is basically a tour of three distopias of the future - Grenada, Singapore, and Mali. His take on these futures is basically believable, if ...more
Ivan Milke
Mar 31, 2014 Ivan Milke is currently reading it
citam srpski prevod koji je objavljen u ediciji "Znaku Sagite" broj 19

Compared to somewhat similar kinds of stories I've read (I'm thinking Neal Stephenson, William Gibson), this story reads kind of slowly. I think that threw me off at first, and didn't really match up with my expectations for cyberpunk. That said, there is a lot of action in this story, it just takes a little while for us to get there, because Stirling takes the time to set up his world (of course).

Ultimately, while I didn't find the book to be a page-turner like some, I came away from the story
James Dunphy
I was craving a science fiction read outside of my usual realm of authors. I picked up Islands in the Net for a few reasons;
1) It's an early cyberpunk novel (I love me some cyberpunk)
2) It's by Bruce Sterling (and I have only been exposed to William Gibson primarily)
3) It was $2.00 at my favorite local book store
Picking this thing up, wow, holy crap. You would think this book was written maybe a few years ago if it weren't for the dated frizzy tangle of 80's hair on the front cover. To think tha
This is a fun read if you were/are a fan of late 80s classic cyberpunk. This is one I wished I had read back when it first came out but was still fun and maintained some of the prescient vision that makes good near-future sci fi. The main character is a rising star in her corporation tasked with mediating a dispute between rival data havens. When things go wrong she finds herself traveling the world as her corporation's representative. As is true of all good science fiction, the various situatio ...more
Jul 29, 2013 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sci fi fans, cyberpunks, political imaginers
Recommended to Michael by: Tom Maddox
I finally got around to re-reading this after more than twenty years, and I’m amazed by how much of it I had forgotten. Certain parts of it had stuck with me very clearly – the submarine, for example, and the beginning of the revolt in Singapore, and a few bits from the beginning, but there were whole sections I had deleted, and I somehow remembered it all happening in a big rush, while this reading was far more leisurely (which may just reflect how I read now vs how I read then).
As I had recal
Curtis Butturff
My version of this book isn't actually listed here I have the leather bound edition from Easton Press such was my regard for the work.

Sterling was a member of a younger generation of science fiction writers that were referred to collectively as the cyber punk movement in the 1980s and 1990s and having read most of his work this title always struck a chord with me.

Some of it's central ideas might seem not so far fetched these days but note that it was first published in 1988 prior to the fall of

Twenty years brings a lot of wrinkles to the face a near-future science fiction book. As always, some things change faster than the author can imagine (even though we're still 10 years away from the book's timeline), some things slower, and some things just differently.

The Net is much faster, cheaper and has more bandwidth than Sterling anticipated. His characters recorded video messages and used "telex" to send text to one another to save costs, rather than just go live.

His video-phone/organi
Alain Dewitt
This was the second Sterling book I read. Prior to reading 'Islands in the Net', I read 'The Artificial Kid'. I didn't care for it at all. Originally I had this one at three stars and 'TAK' at 2 but I have deducted a point from each.

This one is better than 'TAK' but since I basically thought that book sucked, that's not saying a whole lot.

It's set in a fairly near future Earth. The lines between corporations and government have almost blurred into nothingness in the US. The protagonist, Laura W
This was a great read. The scope of this novel is tremendous, I had to keep reminding myself that this was written in 1988. Bruce Sterling has created a fine character filled adventure that manages to excite, philosophise and predict in an unerring way a speculative future that reads like some corporate slash revolutionary playbook. He manages to do this while never falling into excessive techno-fetish or a particular dogma.
We are dragged through a comprehensive geographic and geopolitical mael
John E. Branch Jr.
As far as I can tell so far, the online Science Fiction Encyclopedia, launched in 2011, aims to be authoritative in the manner of traditional reference works: broad in its perspective, knowledgeable in its scope of reference (entries are apt to allude to many styles, trends, subcategories, and the like, whether it be historical literary forms such as the picaresque or more SF-oriented groupings such as the Ruined Earth and Steampunk approaches), concise but thorough in its summaries, and evaluat ...more
Sterling est un des grands du cyberpunk, et ce roman nous le prouve. Alors que d’autres nous propulsent allègrement dans un futur post-gouvernemental où les "corpos" font la loi, Sterling, lui, préfère s’intéresser au basculement, et c’est à ce moment précis que se situe l’intrigue des Mailles du réseau.
Dans un monde où les entreprises prennent de plus en plus d’importance, Laura Webster est l’une des associées d’une démocratie économique, la puissante multinationale Rizome. Et en tant que memb
Nick Black
Not only was the book itself an execrable waste of $5.95 USD, the title's bad enough to elicit wincing, and to top if off there's some $8-an-hour model doing softcore on the front, looking for all the world like the cover of a Def Leppard album. Pyromania! Hysteria! Islands in the Net! How the hell did Bruce Sterling come to be so respected? Yet another few hundred pages of crap yielded up from the "Cyberpunk" genre; aside from Neuromancer, there was really not much going on here. It's a shame, ...more
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]A really good read, set in an early 21st century future but written in 1988. It is of course not intended as a work of prediction, but it's impossible not to read it in that way now - yes, end of Cold War; no, didn't see collapse of communism; yes, video-recorders obsolete; yes, non-state actors capable of major damage to industrialised society; no, rogue states on the whole not providing havens for "data piracy". The passages explaining how ...more
Sterling's ability to accurately predict in principle just how we as a species bend and shape the world - and just how irredeemable we are - is a joy. Written decades ago, this reads as if it were put together yesterday, with a full knowledge of the excesses and stupidities of global culture and politics and technology and its abuse in the post 911 world. Fresh as a daisy. Where other writers' predictions appear naive, Sterling's are essentially on target, even when the astronomical changes in t ...more
I reread this after many years. Didn't love it quite as much as the first time though, though still a great story. For the late 1980s, author Bruce Sterling anticipated many facets of the modern information age. Global information network, cyber crime, cyber terror, changing roles for women, desolation of Africa, corporate neo-liberalism, deadly drones, nuclear terrorists, shifting balance of power away from the West.

Laura Webster makes for an intriguing and admirable character, pulled from libe
Okay, so this book is sci-fi from the late 80s. Which is cool, when you remember how much there wasn't yet the 'internet' of today. The main character is totally unrealistic, but when does a hot scifi woman written by a man ever actually behave realistically?
The fun part is that when you're reading the book, it all makes sense, except occasionally, you'll say EH? what's that? and remember that he's making up all the ways the internet operates, and so his assumptions about how we talk about it n
This remains my favorite Sterling novel. Set in the near future (from when it was written), it's amazingly prescient about the danger of failed states as breeding grounds for terror. While some of his technological predictions are hilariously off the mark (most notably, the fax machine as an important communication device), his explorations of how poverty shapes politics remains compelling. It's all wrapped up in a quick-paced story with a memorable, rich protagonist.

I don't believe this remain
There was a time when Islands in the Net was considered one of the must read classics of cyberpunk, but I don't really think it has aged well. As big a fan as I am of the genre, Islands in the Net ends up being pretty bland. Cyberpunk is all about high-octane craziness, and this novel reads more like a political romp than a science fiction novel. Sterling writes well, and he has some really good ideas, but pretty much gets through those ideas in the most boring way possible. I wouldn't re-read t ...more
When I hooked into The Well in Marin I was reading this.All things were possible.
Decisamente un gran bel romanzo, uno dei migliori del filone cyberpunk. Il futuro descritto non è un futuro molto lontano, ed a differenza di quando Sterling scrisse il romanzo, un epoca in cui le previsioni generali davano l'Africa in netto miglioramento rispetto all'epoca, Sterling l'ha azzeccata. L'Africa oggi sta peggio, le sue previsioni erano correte. Il mondo è sempre più interconnesso, ma le dittature non svaniscono, il crimine organizzato la sta facendo da padrone ed il riscatto, per l' ...more
One of my favorites of the Cyberpunk movement.
Kelly M
This book has definitely expired, although it's interesting to draw parallels between predictions of what now is the present, and the reality of it. I felt like the action-filled parts only served as padding to keep the reader going, and personally I tend to skim over parts where there's a lot of "shooting and yelling" and not much real narrative progress. The story also ended very abruptly to me. I saw this book as only having one purpose, that purpose being to make political predictions about ...more
"...'All Zulus are great warriors.'

Laura nodded. 'Yeah, we Americans, uh, had a black president ourselves.'

'Oh, that fellow of yours didn't amount to anything... you yankees don't even have a real government, just capitalist cartels.'"

(special note: this was written in 1988) Bruce Sterling was right on with a few things in his vision of future America. :)
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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.
More about Bruce Sterling...
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology Schismatrix Plus Heavy Weather The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier Holy Fire

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