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The Artificial Kid (Context (San Francisco).) Paperback – August, 1997

3.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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The entertainment industry rules on the planet Reverie, a world founded by Moses Moses as an experiment in corporately controlled equality. Instead, the experiment has caused Reverie to mutate into a landscape of decadence and class separation. Miles above the surface, the ultra-wealthy live in orbital homes, watching the surface citizens' home-produced videos of sex and extreme violence. The title character of The Artificial Kid, Arti, is the most popular of the Combat Artists. These futuristic mirrors of professional wrestlers or American Gladiators confront each other in superhero-esque battles (although the Combat Artists' contests are real) within a complex system of honor, ritual, and conduct. Arti has reached the height of his fame--equally loved by his fans and friends and despised by his competitors. However, he is not entirely who he seems to be, and when the planetary founder mysteriously returns, The Artificial Kid finds himself embroiled in a battle for power that's not ready for prime time. Bruce Sterling, best known for his nonfiction work, The Hacker Crackdown, and the classic cyberthriller, Islands in the Net, presents a seminal, vivid, and turbulent future in The Artificial Kid. The Artificial Kid is a work of satirical social commentary with the breakneck pace of a Hong Kong action film.
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Product Details

  • Series: Context (San Francisco).
  • Paperback: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Hardwired (August 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188886916X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888869163
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,455,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I found this book in the library, of all places, back when I was in junior high school in 1982. Crouched between all that hoary Silverberg and Simak that I didn't want to read, it said "Psssst!". I haven't been the same since. The Kid jumped out and smacked me across the forehead with his lush, tweaked-out postpunk setting and sweeping, interconnected plot. A little bit of old-world pangalacticism, a little futuristic DIY chopsocky, a bunch of toungues in cheeks, and loads of high-tech wetware polymers and lurching biomasses, from before wetware polymers and lurching biomasses were cool. And all the while, Sterling's trademark core of optimism shines through.
It's taken the world about ten years to catch up to this baby, and it's about damn time. If you don't know Bruce Sterling, this is a fine place to start. Now, where's my Smuff?
John Zero (jzero@onramp.net), Dallas, Texas
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Format: Paperback
With "The Artifical Kid", a young Bruce Sterling demonstrated his excellence in writing comedic novels, to which he would return much later, in full force, in novels like "Holy Fire" and "The Zenith Angle", among others. While his second novel isn't nearly as polished as his later classic "Schisimatrix", it does explore in embroyonic form, some of the same issues of identity and what it means to be human, that he did quite remarkably well in his mid 1980s work. I couldn't help but laugh as I worked my way through the pages of Sterling's early novel, observing that it's nearly as funny as some of Harlan Ellison's best satirical short fiction. For anyone who wishes to understand Sterling's development as a leading member of the cyberpunk literary movement, then this early novel of his is required reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is it. The only Bruce Sterling novel I haven't read. So how does my guru's second novel hold up?

Well, it's original, aggressively stylized, and full of provocative ideas. In the distant future people are effectively immortal, with ennui a leading cause of death. The titular Artificial Kid inhabits the body of of a deceased politician, making his living as a combat artist, beating up other artists with his nunchuks and selling the tapes. He stumbles into a massive historical/scientific conspiracy, and a whole bunch of crazy stuff happens in a unique post-human biological journey.

This isn't a perfect book. If the characters are a little flat, or the writing drags a little, then that's the price of journeyman work-as opposed to Schismatrix, where Sterling finally arrives. But Sterling's obvious talent and energy is on display, and its definitely a fun read.
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Format: Paperback
This is such a strange, imaginative, interesting novel -- it's sad that it was out of print for ages, and then Wired Books brought it back, only to let it fall back out of print! Anyone who likes Bruce Sterling's other stuff should go to abebooks.com and try to find a used copy of this!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fun tale, portraying the adventures of the Artificial Kid, who is something between a flamboyant thug and an entertainer, getting into fights with other of his kind for the amusement of his viewers.
Despite being happy about his day to day career of carefully orchestrated violence, he is pulled into something far more complex, suddenly finding himself in the middle of events that might affect the very fabric of his society.

If you wish to read a fun, action filled SF tale, this book is recomended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the book which got me hooked on Bruce Sterling. A less poundingly gritty world than Gibson's and more playful as a result. It brings together aspects of fame and change - and the adolescent desire to seek one while shunning the other - in an enjoyable combination. The focus is still the action which let me read (and re-read) it for the escapist element.
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By A Customer on January 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
This was actually Sterling's second novel. Involution Ocean was the first. Most people forget Involution Ocean because it was not cyberpunk. The Artificial Kid is okay, but weak for Sterling. His later works were much more imaginative. The Sterling completist must get this one. For others it is a good read but don't expect a classic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first I had this rated as two stars but a month after finishing it I decided to drop a star. I just didn't like this book.

I had heard a lot of good things about Bruce Sterling. So I ordered this and 'Islands in the Net' sort of at random.

I could tell you what happened in this book but I honestly have no idea what Sterling meant to say with it. I will give Sterling big points for correctly forecasting the narcissism of today's society that accompanies the ubiquity of cameras that look always at the subject rather than away. Other than that, there's not much here.
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