Glenn Grant's Burning Days: old school cyberpunk stories from the nostalgic contrafuture

Burning Days is Glenn Grant's cyberpunk science fiction short story collection, and it's got that old school, early days grittiness that made reading books like Mirrorshades and Burning Chrome so exciting: giant junk-mecha pit-fighting in illegal wastelands, secret cyborg cops working noir assassinations; deep greens fighting factional splits at massive post-apocalyptic burningmans; waterlogged climate refugees duking it out with economic crisis lumpenproletariat in the shadow of nanotech seawalls while improvised bombs detonate in the background.

And though this is all recent fiction, it has a kind of historical contrafactuality to it, as the Internet and the Web make no real recognizable appearance in these stories: instead, the stories exist in a world of extremely physical improvised technology that serves as a backdrop for tales of displacement, corruption, and sacrifice.

Grant has been working in the field for a long time; he even contributed to the paper edition of bOING!bOING! in the old days and published the excellent Edge Detector zine.

Grant's work isn't quite like anything else being written today, and it caught me up with a kind of nostalgic futurism that was a delight to experience. As Bruce Sterling says in his introduction to the volume, "Maybe Glenn doesn't write stories all the time -- but somebody's got to write these things: memes, palindromes, fire-spinning debris, and all."

Burning Days

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  1. Is there an ebook version available anywhere? A quick Google has revealed nothing useful and I’m off the hard stuff until I have a bigger house.

  2. Oh Mirrorshades… what a pivotal book that was for me. Early teen, knew I liked scifi but found most of the classics too heavy going, wanted something a bit less ‘prog rock’, bit more ‘punk rock’ :) Hello Mirrorshades!

    Will check out Glenns book for sure.

  3. That’s a real wake-up first para, Cory. The atmosphere of a whole genre instantly popped up in my mind. Phew, I almost used the word zeitgeist then! Anyway, nice writing.

  4. While the subject matter is near and dear to my heart (whilst most of my friends were reading Anne Rice, Neuromancer was leaving me with the thrilling sensation of “what the fuck did I just read? I dunno, but it sure was cool!”) I can’t help but be discouraged by the jacket design. Unless the concept was “you have five minutes, starting now!”

    I know we’re supposed to be all high-minded here and not judge books by covers, but with so many decent designers looking for gigs these days, I have to wonder about how something like this gets approved.

  5. scifijazznik: to me the cover just looks like a backlit action figure. Hopefully the content transcends the image this is giving me, of little plastic people set against genre-clichéd sketchy backdrops :)

  6. I’ve been expecting cyberpunk to re-emerge as 80s retrofuture for some time. Maybe cyberpunk could become the new steampunk? We can all walk around in mohawks and talk about how Japan will buy us all?

  7. I got started, and then I got scared…
    Now I don’t mean the story, I mean the growth, I would have
    to undertake, for me to read this.
    I’m not expressing a hardship of story or style… A hardship of word and thoughtful imagery that would require introspection and a dictionnary.
    I don’t even have a clue what cyberpunk ‘IS’???
    But maybe I’ll get a clue, be charmed or enlightened or dissapointed. But, I got as far as having to make a decision on
    effort, and that’s gonna pull me true. I think, that say’s a lot!
    Now, you need to know, this my second language and I’m stuck between my first and second french-quebecquer-canadian thought’s.
    The road as lead me here! I shall take it!
    Get back to you on the rest.

    Cheers!
    ;)
    The nameless one!

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