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Publisher's Summary

The Nebula-nominated novel of “a brave new world of nearly constant future shock” - plus all the short fiction of the Shaper/Mechanist universe (The Washington Post).

Acclaimed science fiction luminary and a godfather of the genre’s remarkable offspring - cyberpunk - Bruce Sterling carries readers to a far-future universe where stunning achievements in human development have been tainted by a virulent outbreak of prejudice and hatred.

Many thousands of years in the future, the human race has split into two incompatible factions. The aristocratic Mechanists believe that humans can only achieve their greatest potential through technology and enhancing their bodies with powerful prosthetics. The rebel Shapers view these “improvements” as abominations, and their faith in genetic enhancements over mechanical ones has led to violent, even murderous, clashes between the two sects.

One man is caught in the middle. The child of Mechanists, Abelard Lindsay is a former Shaper diplomat who was betrayed and cast out of the fold. Scrupulously trained in the fine art of treachery and deceit, he travels freely between the warring camps during his never-ending exile, embracing piracy and revolution all along the way. But while saving his own skin is Lindsay’s main motivation, a greater destiny awaits him, one that could offer a bold new hope for a tragically sundered humankind.

A breathtaking flight of unparalleled imagination, Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix Plus also includes every subsequent excursion into the Mechanist and Shaper universe, complementing his acclaimed novel with the complete collection of mind-boggling Schismatrix short fiction. The result is is a total immersion into the Mechanist/Shaper universe from the Hugo, Campbell, and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author called “a writer of excellent fineness” by Harlan Ellison and “one of the very best” by Publishers Weekly.

©1996 Bruce Sterling. (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“A brave new world of nearly constant future shock.... Ambitious.... Fast-moving. Sterling’s real forte lies in the evocation of technological and human strangeness.” (The Washington Post)

“Spectacular.... A marvelous feat of invention.” (Booklist

“Absorbingly original.... Highly imaginative.... An arresting slice of future history.” (Kirkus Reviews

What listeners say about Schismatrix Plus

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Sci-fi should be weird but...

This book may be for you but it is not for me. It isn't all bad. Some parts were very compelling story writing. Others were extremely lengthy conversations between barely introduced characters talking about anti aging treatments and soviet era politics set in space. There were some thought provoking scientific elements, and some characters were interesting, but also many elements that were discarded as soon as they were developed and still other elements that were inserted with no development but were pivotal to the story. Overall: a disjointed mashup that had potential. Some readers might find it more compelling than I did.

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  • ivoconk
  • 07-10-21

Classic cyberpunk of the highest quality

Schismatrix is perhaps my favourite SF novel, bundled here with the Shaper/Mechanist short stories that preceded the publication of the full novel. Sterling’s vision of a space-borne civilisation of rapidly evolving humanity occupying orbital colonies and asteroid hideouts still feels fresh today, even though some of the tech concepts have dated a little. The story follows Abelard Lindsay, exiled from his circum-lunar colony and sent wandering across the dizzying societies of the future, divided between gene-manipulating “Shapers” and near-cyborg “Mechanists”. Over the course of his long life Lindsay will meet politically-obsessed space pirates, scheme amongst the denizens of Saturn’s rings and risk the insanity of mind-shattering drugs. With breakneck pacing, Schismatrix never does what you expect and constantly surprises with its wild invention and sly wit. The reading is excellent, striking just the right tone -my only gripe being the mispronunciation of the names of the Lunar seas and one minor character name. If you are a hard sci-fi fan then this is a must.

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