REVIEW: Black Swan by Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling’s Black Swan is an espionage thriller with definite, mind-blowing science fictional elements. Luca, an American journalist/blogger in Italy with loose (but not invisible) ethics, meets with Massimo Montaldo, a shady character willing to divulge game-changing technological information. The impact of Massimo’s latest secret demands that Luca know its origins. An increasingly drunken Massimo is only too eager to reveal it to him, while simultaneously wallowing in self pity over his ex-girlfriend. Luca is subsequently thrown head first into a world similar to his own, yet radically different in so many dangerous ways.
In this story, Sterling presents a near future (several, actually) that is dark and somewhat pessimistic. This becomes, in fact, the main focus of the second act. Characterizations here are minimal, as evidenced by Luca’s acceptance of the seemingly impossible being taken in stride with a single dismissive sentence. Surprisingly, this work’s to the story’s credit as it becomes more of a speculation on the apparently inevitable problems with the world.
This keeps the story moving, too, though perhaps too quickly to keep it standing altogether upright. The short third act is over before it’s clear what, exactly, takes place in anything but the most general terms. This is perhaps by design — as if the story is not about what happens to Luca and Massimo, but what is happening around them; that is, what is happening around us.
Filed under: Book Review
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