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Islands in the Net Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (March 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441374239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441374236
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Slightly dated science fiction about the near future can be fun, especially when it evokes a strange, chaotic, and dangerous world that's uncomfortably close to our present one. Bruce Sterling's 1988 book, Islands in the Net, is a thrilling blend of high tech and low humanity. The glue that binds together this world of data pirates, mercenaries, nanotechnology, weaponry, and post-millennial voodoo is the global electronic net. You'll find jarring references to pre-Microsoft Windows computer technology, the Soviet Union, and that fancy new wonder machine--the fax. But this book has enough cool stuff to keep even a jaded cyberpunk interested. The characters are far more than mere constructs used to show off the technology, and the plot is fast, complicated, and mysterious. Veteran Sterling fans will enjoy this taste of his pre-fame style.

From Library Journal

A war between data pirates involves a young woman and her husband in a desperate search for a new kind of international terrorist. The author of Schismatrix ( LJ 6/15/85) explores the gulf between the high-tech haves and have-nots in this fast-paced novel of 21st-century techno-intrigue. Recommended for all collections.JC
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Bruce Sterling, author, journalist, editor, and critic,
was born in 1954. Best known for his ten science fiction
novels, he also writes short stories, book reviews,
design criticism, opinion columns, and introductions
for books ranging from Ernst Juenger to Jules Verne.
His nonfiction works include THE HACKER CRACKDOWN:
LAW AND DISORDER ON THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER (1992),
TOMORROW NOW: ENVISIONING THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS (2003),
and SHAPING THINGS (2005).

He is a contributing editor of WIRED magazine
and writes a weblog. During 2005,
he was the "Visionary in Residence" at Art Center
College of Design in Pasadena. In 2008 he
was the Guest Curator for the Share Festival
of Digital Art and Culture in Torino, Italy,
and the Visionary in Residence at the Sandberg
Instituut in Amsterdam. In 2011 he returned to
Art Center as "Visionary in Residence" to run
a special project on Augmented Reality.

He has appeared in ABC's Nightline, BBC's The Late Show,
CBC's Morningside, on MTV and TechTV, and in Time,
Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times,
Fortune, Nature, I.D., Metropolis, Technology Review,
Der Spiegel, La Stampa, La Repubblica, and many other venues.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of the gutsiest SF novels I know of. Bruce Sterling has set his novel in one of the most incredibly detailed, well thought out futures ever developed. He's thought about his world geopolitically, economically, ideologically, and on a host of other levels, including how people live on a day to day basis. His people have internalized genuinely different ideas because of the world that has shaped them. In this sense it is most like some of the best Heinlein novels.
The world Sterling creates alone would make this worthwhile reading, but his characterization is strong and unconventional, and he tells an extremely interesting story that travels all over the world. This isn't really a fast-paced pageturner, and it isn't immersed in hard-science details about how things work in the future--it's more like real life for most of us, where technology is part of the background, and just works. So if those are the kinds of things you value in a SF novel, this may not be your book. But the traditional virtues of plot, characterization, and setting make this an outstanding novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 27, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I found Laura, the protagonist, not at all a stock character. Certainly she was an ordinary everywoman, as intended, but this is exactly the type of character you almost never see in science fiction. She's not a technical uber-guru or a speed-freak street-warrior, but those stock types are hardly a benchmark for realism in characterization. As for the settings, I've lived most of my life in Texas, and could sense how comfortable Sterling was with Texan characters in the first few pages. While I've never been to the other settings, I found the story evocative, and especially felt like he was working from a substantial map of Singapore in his head from having spent a fair amount of time there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Netwyrm on November 12, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
...I found value in this work by Sterling. I don't remember a whit of the plot machinations or the characters ten years after reading it. I do remember, however, the author's gift for thoughtfulness about the mechanisms of the future--the "sunglasses" in particular are something I think about often, being used to confer with "board members" all over the globe.

I think Islands in the Net is a valuable read in that the author put a lot of thought into the technology itself of his "future." It's regretful that the book itself is turgid, but an awful lot of cyberpunk at the time was plot- or "feeling"- heavy, with the technology needed by the plot just "there," and little thought given to how and if it would work and be used.

This book was very interesting at the time I originally read it if you were thinking about how to build the future, and what to build and how it could actually be used in practical fashion, rather than say, the kevlar dusters and mirrorshades.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christian Baekkelund on July 13, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Perhaps I may be unfair in my review of Islands, for I expected something very different, but I was not as impressed by it as I thought I'd be. The book is a good and solid story of a relatively simple corporate woman thrown into a whirlwind of an international power struggle. The awkwardness lies in the editing -- it easily could have down with shaving off 75 or so pages -- for Sterling has a tendancy to too involved with details in the story that once the reading of the novel is complete, and looking back, were quite unimportant (even to backdrop, characterization, etc. -- not just plot). Another awkward point is the main character, an amazingly simple and flat character that I had a hard time caring about at all. Finally, the last awkward point is Sterling's obvious fascination with foreign countries, political struggles, etc. This can be interesting, for while most cyberpunk books put the corporate inter-fighting ahead of any political tussles, Sterling offers a glimpse of why that might come to be (ie., the rise of corporations of political structures); however, Sterling frequently gets bogged down in trying to explain and display too much of these cultures he fancies.

Overall, however, the story is good, the characterization, setting, etc. are all good, and in the end, you *are* left with a solid sense of what the author intended (thoughts about world-wide changes over time...revolutions...*ideas*...sweeping political changes), and thus, the novel is effective and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Seth in SF on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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 impact of instant world-wide communication and what happens to those who aren't included. How technology and society change one another and how the morals of those involved matter. Whether the masses can threaten a global social order. What kind of crimes, if any, can be forgiven for the sake of technical or social genius.

The major action of the book is completely relevant today: global terrorism and the questions of social and economic breakdown in Africa. What is likely, what is preventable, how do they affect the rest of the world, and does anyone have both the power and the will to affect the issues?

The book is written in Stirling's slightly-dry style and the setting changes back and forth in ways that may large sections of the book less interesting to some readers. It's worth it and it's far from a slog, but be aware going in that it's best to either do it in one quick read or spread out over many days.

The story follows Laura Webster. She is a high-flyer rising in Rizome Corporation, a multinational megaconglomerate. (The pun on "rhizome" is no doubt intentional.) At the beginning of the book she's starting up a new subsidiary, a Lodge in Galvaston the company uses as a combination retreat, vacation spot, and meeting place for the most discrete business.
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