This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Mirrorshades: the Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by Bruce Sterling and published just over twenty years ago, is an overview of the hottest young talent in SF in the mid-1980s. As far as introducing the reader to a bunch of authors, many of whom are writing buddies of Sterling himself, it does a fair job; while I wasn’t so enraptured by the stories that I’d want to keep the book and read them over and over again, they at least gave me some idea of which authors of the William Gibson-Bruce Sterling circle I’d want to explore further. On that basis, it’s a pretty good book. Mirrorshades is held up by cyberpunk fans as a definitive collection, in every sense of the word. The claim that the book defines the cyberpunk genre originates with Sterling himself, in his introduction. And if the definition was “cyberpunk is stuff that Bruce Sterling and his mates write”, I’d have no problem with it.
If only it stopped there.