Rob's Reviews > Burning Chrome

Burning Chrome by William Gibson
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's review
Aug 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: bedside, own, science-fiction, collection, 2011
Read from August 08 to 14, 2011 , read count: 10+

Take this and the collection Mirrorshades (edited by Bruce Sterling and you will have the definitive "cyberpunk" short story collection.

Burning Chrome is a solid representation of Gibson's early work ("the Sprawl period") and while its most often represented with references to Neuromancer, his finest, most poignant prose is in this collection of short stories.

Perhaps most utterly fascinating is the late-stage Cold War mentality that we had ourselves a nuclear armageddon just around the corner but that after we got there, we would discover it just wasn't nearly as bad as we'd hoped. A few feeble bomb exchanges are overshadowed by black ops infiltration both physical and digital. Our wars are over in days rather than years and then we all go back to normal with re-drawn borders that mean anything only to cartographers anyway.

Even in the shorts where a near-term memory of war is noticeably absent (e.g., "The Gernsback Continuum"), the emphasis still seems to lie on epoch-altering events that are so feeble in their moment but so far-reaching in their wake.

All that said: "Hinterlands" is the most gut-wrenchingly emotional story in science fiction; if nothing else, it alone makes this collection a must-have.

Rated Individually:
• "Johnny Mnemonic" ★★★★
• "The Gernsback Continuum" ★★★★★
• "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" ★★★
• "The Belonging Kind" (with John Shirley) ★★★★
• "Hinterlands" ★★★★★
• "Red Star, Winter Orbit" (with Bruce Sterling) ★★★★
• "New Rose Hotel" ★★★★
• "The Winter Market" ★★★
• "Dogfight" (with Michael Swanwick) ★★★★
• "Burning Chrome" ★★★★


Update 8/14/2011: Now more than ever, the imagery shows its age. Talk of slamming cartridges into consoles like kids slamming quarters into arcades? How much more late-20th century can you get? But rather than feel worn-out and dated, it conjures up its own special nostalgia. But who knows... maybe it's only my generation of scifi reader that is going to look at early-to-mid-80s cyberpunk literature (with all its now-kitschy references to the Soviet Union and cybernetically-controlled aircraft fighting for air superiority over South America) with this kind of fondness. But I'm not ashamed of that even remotely.

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Reading Progress

08/09/2011 page 36
08/11/2011 page 80
42.0% ""Hinterlands" is still my favorite short story of all time."
08/13/2011 page 117
61.0% ""New Rose Hotel": great story, but a terrible movie."
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