Rewired: Post-Cyberpunk Anthology shows how sf has changed since the Mirroshades era

In Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, editors James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel round up sixteen inspiring, mind-altering stories written since cyberpunk's heyday ended and the "post-cyberpunk" era began. No one's really sure what "post-cyberpunk" means, but these stories were written by writers who took the themes and furniture that cyberpunk brought to the field in directions never contemplated by the first generation. There are a lot more families in these stories, a lot more work extrapolated from real computer science, a lot more work set outside of the USA and Japan.

Whatever "post-cyberpunk" means, these are some thoroughly enjoyable stories (I wrote one of them, "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth"). I'd read and been moved by about half of the stories in the book already — Marusek's "The Wedding Album;" Pat Cadigan's "Little Latin Larry;" Bruce Sterling's "Bicycle Repairman;" and others among them — and the other half were new to me. But new or old, these stories seemed to follow some hidden gradient, towards greater concentrations of heart and humanism.

The stories are interspersed with excerpts from letters between Bruce Sterling (who, in the guise of Vincent Omniveritas, editor of the zine Cheap Truth, was field's great writer of manifestos) and John Kessel, a staunch humanist and excellent literary thinker. This correspondence ran and raged through the cyberpunk revolution, and it makes for fascinating reading today, with the excerpts chosen so that they highlight the cyberpunk heritage and divergence of each story in this collection.

The anthology's other writers include William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, Gwyeneth Jones, Hal Duncan, Elizabeth Bear, and Charlie Stross, and every story in the bunch is a knockout.


See also: Slipstream Science Fiction anthology defies genre conventions

Update: John Berry (the legendary typographer who designed Rewired) has a great post about the process of designing it.