Bruce Sterling has called his Shaper/Mechanist novel Schismatrix “my favorite among my books.” It is a detailed history of a spacefaring humanity divided into. Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix is to Neuromancer what Gormenghast is to The Lord of the Rings, at least as far as its place in the Cyberpunk canon is . 31 Jan It’s been about twenty years since I first read Sterling’s Schismatrix. At the time, I didn’t find it that interesting, nor a particularly good novel. Sure.

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The Investor Peace does not last forever, though, and tensions between Shapers and Mechanists eventually start to rise when the Investors play the factions against one another. Sterling occasionally has a a moment where another character talks about what’s going on on the various planets like when Ryumin or Greta Beatty gives him a quick tour of their worldand those parts read smoother than the rest of the novel.

It’s a good novel, with complicated ideas and good plot. Why was Vera so fascinating to both men? The Shapers are a faction devoted to the improvement of the human form and mind through genetic engineering and are known for their somewhat aristocratic and elitist bearing, while the Mechanists are those who instead chose the path of merging the human form with machine technology in the quest for immortality and transcendance.

The attached stories would be weak on their own, but add interesting color to the connected universe. The three of them influence the younger generation towards the Shapers’ cause in their pursuit of Preservationism, a movement devoted to the preservation of earth-bound human culture. This book also had a profound influence on the books of Charles Stross and Alastair Reynolds, the former taking the zany idea flinging and economic speculation and the latter the grim, fractured weirdness.

In fact, it can be a bit exhausting. The factions are fighting each other in wars lasting generations. For example, when he annexes Goldreich-Tremaine, he forces Lindsay to flee, even though his wife Nora Mavrides stays behind. Even more useful in the Age of Trump, considering the adjustments you have to do every day.

It includes every short story as well as the full length novel Schismatrixwhat’s more is that it is all arranged in the way the Sterling intended it to be read. If that’s cyberpunk, then Sterling has taken the pretension way past its defined forms. Sterling’s novel follows a single mover-shaker through the turbulent politics and world of the far future human panoply spread across the solar system.

Jul 25, Sarah B.

Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling

The Investor, characteristically of his species, cannot understand why Afriel is so anxious to know this. You can make popcorn and fly in space with sublight speed in less than 2. He becomes a post-humanist and returns to Czarina-Kluster to work schhismatrix Wellspring’s ‘Lifesiders’ clique.

But the investment is absolutely worth it. From the outset, Lindsay has always been on the side of life, and wherever that might take him. Both factions are fighting to control the Schismatrix of humankind.

This really is a great ride and is highly recommended for lovers of sci-fi.


This book has been on my list after reading an excellent short story by Sterling dealing with this same universe. Mechs versus shapers in a diplomatic battle for the something or other.

Jul 06, Terry rated it it was amazing Shelves: A bunch of related short stories? Trade flourishes and the Shapers and Mechanists put their differences aside.

It has enough strengths though.

Banks at his best in the Culture novels. This is science fiction of the most ambitious and wide-ranging scyismatrix, with constructions of future humanity taken as far as imagination could take them without crossing the line into all-out fantasy. Constantine’s militant Shaperism has been replaced by a Preservationist government, dedicated to remaining a cultural preserve where normal, unmodified human life is preserved.

Schismatfix 15, Jesse rated it it was ok. It’s not a bad story — it’s a very, very good one — but if your emotional landscape is anything like mine it will make you cry. I have to admit that this is one of very few Sterling novels that I’ve enjoyed with no hesitation. Apr 09, Brendan rated it it was amazing Shelves: In ten or twelve short stories, Sterling maps out a xchismatrix plausible future history that’s entirely within the realm of the possible while it carves out the absurdity of the present.

But I really hate doing that with books, and the novel within echismatrix book was just a little over pages, so I decided, again and again, that I would just deal and get through it.

The protagonist, Lydia Martinez, has been widowed for thirty years her husband, a wealthy businessman who traded with the Investors, had been murdered by Shaper assassins and has taken to calling herself Spider Rose. I have another collection of his works here and I’m sorely tempted to keep the Sterling binge going.

Even though I succeeded in stripping the name of its sinister cshismatrix, I continued to imagine the character looking and sounding exactly like Christoph Waltz who is a gifted schksmatrix engineer and scholar of lichens.

It’s full of meat and emotions and all the failures of humanity. The wow factor is pretty big on this. Schismatrix more a scyismatrix of novellas than linear storytelling, tension builds in the setting rather than over the course of the narrative. This novel has much more of a far-future setting than the bulk of Sterling’s subsequent work. Schismatrjx the fringes of societies diverse subcultures have formed. Inside her spaceship, the only thing Spider Rose has for company — besides some pet cockroaches — is her grief, with which she is locked in an eternal stalemate.

Finally, true change also means death. Retrieved from ” https: This reminded me of Charles Stross’ much later book Accelerandobut it didn’t work nearly as well for me, the characters weren’t quite as relateable to start with, never mind what they turned into.

This Austrian economic cult seems to be a product of cosmic evolution. That place was where the novel began, but Lindsay cannot go with him. For the first time in one volume: Schismatrix opens with one of the most bizarrely sublime assassination attempts ever depicted in literature—the possibilities of sci-fi used to full effect.

Using a recording of an Investor’s ship queen involved in some taboo activities to blackmail the alien, Lindsay contributes to the creation of Czarina-Kluster, neither Shaper nor Mechanist, which quickly becomes one of the richest and most powerful states in the solar system. The Mechanists change the body through the machine, literally incorporating the machine into the body. In the years during Lindsays’ catatonia, the expansion of settlements throughout the solar system has seen an economy in huge surplus; with abundant wealth, expensive and prolonged terraforming efforts are first being considered.