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Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  8,362 ratings  ·  160 reviews
With their hard-edged, street-wise prose, they created frighteningly probable futures of high-tech societies and low-life hustlers. Fans and critics call their world cyberpunk. Here is the definitive "cyberpunk" short fiction collection.

The Gernsback Continuum (1981) by William Gibson
Snake-Eyes (1986) by Tom Maddox
Rock On (1984) by Pat Cadigan
Tales of Houdini (198
Paperback, 239 pages
Published July 1st 1988 by Ace (first published December 1986)
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Manuel Antão
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1985
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Ancient Rayguns: "Mirrorshades" by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling et al

(Original Review, 1985)

Isn't that just the thing? With the digital world, social media and the online life, comes an entirely new kind of creeping, monolithic conformity. When everywhere you go cookies are recording your choices, advertising companies can predict your needs and your boss is your friend on Facebook, you need to be careful about what you download on K
Oct 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Here the mediocre and the barely readable rub shoulders with pop genius.

The lesser cyberpunks come across like caffeinated 1950s squares desperately trying to sound like the beatniks they've heard so much about. Want some holodrugs to go with your cyberslang, daddy-o!!?

The greats have a singular ease of style and taste for the bizarre that gives you a whiff of the 80s, but the colors are still bright after twenty years.

Flawed, but essential.
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Initial reaction: Probably 3.5 stars. There are some really interesting and good stories in the mix included here, and only a few that didn't really strike me all that well, whether it was the fact some of them were random and not necessarily what I would term cyberpunk, or that some of them seemed a little dated. I did appreciate Sterling's introduction on Cyberpunk as a genre overall, and I thought it was a good collection overall. Some of the authors I'm very familiar with their work, while o ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Perhaps looking back at cyberpunk from 2014, it is impossible to fully grasp what the authors at the beginning of that movement were truly about. We have Bruce Sterling's intro of this anthology to help us out, including other names for the movement at the time - Outlaw Technologists, Eighties Wave, Radical Hard SF, and others. Maybe we just needed to call it the Weird at the time, and in each decade assign different authors to that category.

When I read this anthology I struggle to place each s
D.M. Dutcher
Feb 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
Incredibly dated and barely even cyberpunk.

Brief short story collection from the early days of cyberpunk, with some authors that you'd consider it (Gibson, Cadigan, Rucker, Sterling) and some you wouldn't (Greg Bear.) The stories themselves are bad, as many don't even bother with computers or the internet at all, and come across as a weird "rock and roll" version of New Wave SF. The focus on drugs seems naïve in a world where people deal with mood-altering drugs to medicate mental issues on a d
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: cyberpunk n00bs and other scifi lovers
A battered copy lives in my nightstand at all times. Between novels, I always come back to this, flipping through the pages until a word catches my eye. Such a diversity of talent, mixed together quite well here.

Rated Individually:
• "The Gernsback Continuum" (William Gibson) ★★★★★
• "Snake-Eyes" (Tom Maddox) ★★★★
• "Rock On" (Pat Cadigan) ★★★★
• "Tales of Houdini" (Rudy Rucker) ★★★★★
• "400 Boys" (Marc Laidlaw) ★★★★★
• "Solstice" (James Patrick Kelly) ★★★★
• "Petra" (Greg Bear) ★★★★★
• "Till Human Voic
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sterling organized this collection to introduce the Cyperpunk genre to the 1980's. In the preface to his own story, he writes: "Something is loose in the 1980's. And we are all in it together."

Each writer displays masterful skill in writing the short story form. They were fun and entertaining, and satisfied my literary hunger for resonance. Others made me wonder where they were taking the story, and reminded me of Hemingway, how he writes a story with a deeper meaning, but you wanted a plot and
Nov 02, 2012 rated it liked it
A very mixed bag. This probably counts as essential reading for fans of cyberpunk, but only some of the stories qualify, genre-wise. However, the other stories fit in in terms of era. They are more interesting academically, as a glimpse into what else was going on in literary sci fi in the early 80's.

Of special note is that the 2 Gibson stories printed here were also included in Burning Chrome, so if you, like me, initially picked this us as a Gibson completist, you will be a little disappointed
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Cyberpunk used to mean so much more than crazy future clothes, oppressive corporate regimes, and cybernetic enhancements, but these days the word mostly conjures up Gibsonian dystopias. It's interesting to read a broader range of stories from the time, selected by people who were part of 'the Movement', but it might be even more interesting to read Bruce Sterling talk about himself in the third person when he describes prominent figures of cyberpunk. Amusing!
3 and a bit stars rounded down.

This anthology collects together twelve stories from the beginning of the cyberpunk genre in the 1980s. While I’m not well-versed in the genre (a lot of sci-fi leaves me cold), I’ve enjoyed the Gibson novels I read in the past, and a couple of films. I’m not sure I’d class all these stories as cyberpunk as such – some seem more some variation of speculative fiction than anything else (one story has Houdini performing various escape acts of increasing difficulty; wh
Hamish Cameron
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Patchy. As this is the book that defines the cyberpunk "movement" in a way, it seems churlish to say that some of the stories are more fantasy than cyberpunk, but as the genre is today, that's the case.
Gumbo Ya-ya
In what seems to be becoming a trend for me in anthologised short fiction, Mirrorshades as a collection shines despite many of the individual stories being rather lacklustre. Reading this book more than 30 years after it was published, and having read quite a bit of cyberpunk fiction that was released in those same three decades, has provided an interesting perspective on what cyberpunk was to the people who created it and caused me to seriously rethink my own ideas about what makes something cy ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: future-sci-fi, 2018
I am not a big fan of short stories. That said, there were some decent entries (Solstice by James Patrick Kelly and Freezone by John Shirley among them). There were also some I didn't care for. One was co-authored by William Gibson who is actually my favorite cyber-punk author. In a few places the stories were getting dated. Nor surprising since they were all written over 30 years ago. If you are a big fan of 80's SF it might be worth reading.
Nick Black
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
The best story in here is William Gibson's "The Gernsback Continuum", which anyone who cares already has in Burning Chrome. The rest is largely trash. ...more
Ian Casey
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Other than Dangerous Visions, is there a more lauded and groundbreaking multi-author anthology in science fiction than Mirrorshades? Indeed, it's tempting here to review the context of the book moreso than the book itself, so forgive me such digressions.

To a reader over three decades on the text is, frankly, a little patchy. As might be expected, it's quite varied in tone and style, from the whimsical to the overwrought. Some of it's outside of what one immediately thinks of as cyberpunk post-Ne
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This anthology got off to a pretty disappointing start, but fortunately I stuck with it because by the end there were some pretty good stories. Gibson's The Gernsback Continuum isn't really cyberpunk, but it is a significant observation on the difference between the 50s vision of the future and that in the 80s. What I find amusing is that somebody could easily write a Gibson Continuum story now highlighting the differences between the 80s future and ours. As demonstrated by a number of the stori ...more
I think I'm just not a cyberpunk fan, or at least not this old-school cyberpunk. The stream-of-consciousness presentation is the worst part, to me, but the content isn't a lot better.

So many of these authors think it's cool to throw random jargon, names, etc, without any reason to do so, as if making up words is worldbuilding. They all seem to be excited about drugs, particularly hallucinogens. A lot of the stories are misogynist, male-gazing slobberingly at the naked chicks they condescend to
El Zuco
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just started the book but already love it... why haven't I been reading cyberpunk my whole life? The excellent first short story by Gibson, "Gernsback Continuum," narrates the story of a contract photographer hired to document the vestiges of 1930's US futurism, but also somehow manages to function as an abbreviated history of US modernism in the twentieth century and a commentary on the history of science fiction whose negativity suggests a cyberpunk vision in confronting the present (early 198 ...more
Ninja Pigeon
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it

Contains many of my favorite examples of cyberpunk fiction. From Mozart in Mirrorshades, to the WW1 flight combat sim done in 3D Virtual Reality, this anthology is a collection of many amazing writers and their stories. All of them have stuck with me for the last 15+ years and influenced many of my own writing, and movie decisions. A must read for any beginner to the sci-fi and specifically cyberpunk genre. Also of note - my iPad doesn't try to correct the word "cyberpunk". Kudos to Gibson and
Ernesto I. Ramirez
Wonderful look into the old cyberpunk genre, some stories have aged pretty well, in particular I loved "Mozart in Mirrorshades" its a great political comment.

I had to hear it twice to get all the details, but I loved the storytelling.
Chris Lovejoy
Mar 21, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020
What became of cyberpunk? William Gibson got a nice career out of that dark future, although throughout the years has progressed asymptotically backwards in time, just about making it to the present day with the Blue Ant trilogy and then careening back into an even darker future with his recent trilogy. Interestingly, the embryonic conceit of 2014's the Peripheral can be found in the last story featured in this collection by Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner, "Mozart in Mirrorshades". Although the ...more
look, did i read all the stories? no
will i do so someday? mAYBE (h a, sure)
do i care? nah

honestly . . . the best part of this anthology is the foreword.
– it's a really cool, if vaguely outdated (look, fawning over the punkness of home photocopiers just did not age well man) and fanboy-y, essay about scifi and society and the genre of cyberpunk, and it makes the rest of the collection look really sad in comparison.
the real plot twist is how the quality of the foreword suggests the man who comp
Octavia Cade
Cyberpunk is one of the subgenres of science fiction that I've read vanishingly little of, and if this anthology is representative I probably won't be going out of my way to read much more of it, to be honest. There were three or four stories here that I actually liked - they are what dragged my rating up to three stars when it otherwise would have been two. The rest of the stories I was either entirely indifferent to or mildly disliked. Notable (to me at least, with my very vague understanding ...more
I guess that the most interesting part of the most famous anthology of cyberpunk stories is that there is very little cyberpunk in it at all.

My disappointment started in the introduction. What Sterling means by "cyberpunk" are not the contents of the stories but the authors themselves (or the Movement). Perhaps because the book came out before many of the fun tropes that one associates with the genre, i.e. hackers, corporations, cybernetic enhancements, class struggle, actually became tropes? In
Zack Hester
Jul 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology - Edited by Bruce Sterling (1986)

The Gernsback Continuum (1981) by William Gibson - 3/5*
Snake-Eyes (1986) by Tom Maddox - 4/5
Rock On (1984) by Pat Cadigan - 3/5
Tales of Houdini (1981) by Rudy Rucker - 2/5
400 Boys (1983) by Marc Laidlaw - 2/5
Solstice (1985) by James Patrick Kelly - 4/5
Petra (1982) by Greg Bear - 2/5
Till Human Voices Wake Us (1984) by Lewis Shiner - 3/5
Freezone (1985) by John Shirley - 2/5
Stone Lives (1985) by Paul Di Filippo - 2/5
Red Star, Wi
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthology
This is reasonable solid anthology, with generally decent standard of stories.What makes it interesting is that it was supposedly the definitive collection that helped to define cyberpunk. Reading it 30-odd years later,this is rather hard to see. There are a variety of stories, post-apocalypse, time-travel, drug stories etc. It is hard thought, to see this as a cyberpunk collection, let lone a definitive one. There is in relatively little that in retrospect one would recognise as being cyberpunk ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This seminal collection of cyberpunk short fiction was probably more effective back in the 80s when it was published.

About half the stories included are excellent, a few of that half shockingly accurate in the predictions they make and the ideas they explore. Overall the whole thing is worth the read - just be open minded and more than anything accept the more ridiculous (Mozart in Mirrorshades specifically) stories as what they are intended to be, fun.
Charlie So-and-so
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: genre-fiction
Reading a collection like this, even one filled with as many luminaries as this one is, can quickly veer into kitch but this one manages to somehow feel reasonably fresh after 30 years. (Some stories are still so relevant to the contemporary sociopolitical landscape that the observations seem trite)

I particularly enjoyed Lewis Shiner, Rudy Rucker, Paul di Filippo, Greg Bear and Tom Maddox’s contributions.
Bronwyn Knox
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: anthology, reviewed, scifi
I tracked this collection down because I was interested in Cyberpunk beyond William Gibson. There are a couple of Gibson stories that I already had read in his Burning Chrome collection, “Gernsback Continuum” which is one of my favorites, and “Red Star, Winter Orbit.”

The best new (to me) story in this collection was “Petra” by Greg Bear which isn’t a Cyberpunk story at all. It’s a Weird Fiction apocalypse where reality and rationality break down. Dreams and nightmares become real. Stone statues
John Newman
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit uneven, but some a couple of standouts. I really liked the old old Gibson story - reminds me of his newer stuff (although its not particularly cyberpunk). The title piece, by Sterling & Shiner (I think) - "Mozart in Mirrorshades" - is a fun little piece on time travel, colonialism, and Mozart as punk rock.

Its definitely worth picking up a used copy.
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Recommendations 6 33 May 27, 2012 05:26PM  
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Bruce Sterling is an author, journalist, critic and a contributing editor of Wired magazine. Best known for his ten science fiction novels, he also writes short stories, book reviews, design criticism, opinion columns and introductions to books by authors ranging from Ernst Jünger to Jules Verne. His non-fiction works include The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier (1992 ...more

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