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issue: 01/01/2001

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by Bruce Sterling

- reviewed by Scott Butki

I grimaced when I began this book but smiled as it engaged me increasingly.

Grimaced because Y2k is so, well, Y2K. Why has Sterling, a modern sci-fi writer, decided to take us back to 1999?

In Istanbul, of all places?

But while each joke about something bad happening in Y2K rubbed wrong, there were other elements that felt right.

The lead character is Leggy Starlitz, who is in the middle of a big scam involving the G-7 girls, which the book jacket describes as "the cheapest, phoniest all-girl band ever to wear Wonderbras and spandex."

Think about what would happen if the Spice Girls followed more of the Milli Vanilli style of music.

While he's worried the act is losing popularity in other parts of the world, he thinks he can make a mint by having them do a big show in Istanbul.

Oh, and the whole band project has this as its main rule - the project ends in 2001.

Sterling has wisely added an assortment of other characters around Starlitz such as two Russians who help with security job.

And one-third into the book the story grows more interesting as Vanna, the mother of his sole child, left after bringing their daughter, Zeta, to him. It was the first time dad and daughter met and spent time together.

This results in much depth as the usually intelligent, quick-thinking Starlitz find himself uncharacteralistically happy.

Overall, it's a good book but far from a great book. And not nearly as good as recent works by other cyberpunk masters like Neal Stephenson and William Gibson

b i o :
Scott Butki lives and works in Hagerstown, Md, where he writes for the local newspaper.


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