Best-known for his seminal sf novel Neuromancer, William Gibson is actually best when writing short fiction. Tautly-written and suspenseful, Burning Chrome collects 10 of his best short stories with a preface from Bruce Sterling, now available for the first time in trade paperback. These brilliant, high-resolution stories show Gibson's characters and intensely-realized worlds at his absolute best, from the chip-enhanced couriers of "Johnny Mnemonic" to the street-tech melancholy of "Burning Chrome."
In his enthusiastic description of the '30s and '40s "moderne'' style of industrial design (featured in one of these stories), Gibson might be writing about his own work: ``The change was only skin-deep; under the streamlined chrome shell, you'd find the same Victorian mechanism . . . . It was all a stage set, a series of elaborate props for playing at living in the future.'' That dexterous, shallow artifice has won Gibson awards and fervent fans (especially for his first novel, Neuromancer but beneath it is something old, worn and tired. Thus ``Johnny Mnemonic,'' whose body computer stores secret information, is just a variation of Mr. Memory from The 39 Steps. Gibson's gangsters, corrupt industrialists, young techies and lowlifes eager to belong to any in-group that will have them, are cliches without conviction. This weak collection of 10 short stories seems to have been rushed out to cash in on Gibson's current popularity. Paperback rights to Berkley.