A collection of brilliant post-punk author Sterling's short stories. The book is divided into three sections: the shaper/mechanist stories, science fiction, and fantasy stories. Mind-bending takes on what could have been and what might be.
From Publishers Weekly
Sterling ( Islands in the Net ) is one of the very best young science fiction writers, and one of the foremost exponents of cyberpunk (he edited Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology ). His first collection brings together a dozen of his evocative, inventive, beautifully written stories. "Spook" tells of a future intelligence agent who is subjected to an operation that removes the psychologically limiting Veil implanted in his head, and then finds freedom untenable because it brings realization of all the suffering he has caused. "The Little Magic Shop" is a whimsical story about life-extending elixir, with a twist. Five of the stories are from the Shaper/Mechanist series, set in a future in which the two races war for the universe's resources. "Swarm" tells of a Shaper who craftily gathers some genetic material from the alien Swarm race with the intent of creating a slave population, but whose plans backfire spectacularly when his understanding of the Swarm proves less advanced than his technology.
From Library Journal
Five stories set in the Shaper/Mechanist universe of Schismatrix (LJ 6/15/85) highlight this collection of 12 sf and fantasy tales (some previously uncollected) by the author of Islands in the Net (LJ 6/15/88). Whether delineating the baroque politics of starfaring humanity ("Cicada Queen") or chronicling a computer-age white knight's adventures in a primitive, antitechnological country ("Green Days in Brunei"), Sterling's ability to zero in on the human element remains undiminished.
I really enjoyed the first third of the book - the "Machinist / Shaper" stories. The last two-thirds are hit and miss, but these stories still feel fresh. The level of future shock in the first third is amazing.