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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 September 2000
Although I love Neuromancer and Gibson's other books, its in his short stories he really excels. He manages to paint a complete world in a page or two, fleshing out his characters into real people. Some of the stories seem to be in the world of the sprawl, others are in very different places. All have the strange tension of living in a place on the edge of change, the Edge where console cowboys cut ICE from the datacores of an Old/Young woman or burned out hustlers dogfight holographic planes around the lightbulbs of seedy bars. Each story is Short, sharp and glorious.
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William Gibson is best known as the author of Neuromancer -- his first novel, which caused him to be hailed in  The Sunday Times as "the information age's resident populist prophet".
The book reviewed here is a collection of ten short stories, including his first published story Fragments of a Hologram Rose from 1977.
Gibson's style has been described as "a combination of low-life and high-tech". This collection shows how perceptive he can be in observing both. Gibson doesn't just use technology as a back-drop or to provide props; he considers the effects that developments in technology might have upon individuals and societies. In Johnny Mnemonic for example a character explains:--
"We're an information economy. They teach you that at school. What they don't tell you is that it's impossible to move, to live, to operate at any level without leaving traces, bits, seemingly meaningless fragments of personal information. Fragments that can be retrieved, amplified."
Gibson describes also the detail of low-life settings. In this collection there are very good descriptions of different types of bars in The Belonging Kind. He paints portraits of different characters, Deke in Dogfight, Lese in The Winter Market, with different colours and shades.
Ultimately, however, he extrapolates from a mass (or media) consciousness of the present. Gibson has interesting things to say but he is not a prophet. The future will not be the same as his stories. The Soviet Union has not dominated space research (as in Red Star, Winter Orbit), in fact it no longer exists. Many future developments will derive not from mass actions or popular consciousness, but from the work of "outsiders". Instead of looking just at what is now considered "central", perhaps he should view what is emerging at the edge....
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on 27 May 2001
This collection contains ten stories, seven of which are solo works by William Gibson and the other three are collaborations. Nine appeared previously between 1977 and 1985 and one was new for this collection.
Gibson writes hard, technical cyber-punk SF with the art of a real master of the short story genre. Good SF shorts are of course all about ideas, situations and snappy plot twists but great examples of this genre also pack in characters that you can understand and root for and worlds that come to life in your head. It is hard to do that and only a handful of writers can turn out work of this quality.
The opening shot in the book, "Johnny Mnemonic" is one of those rare tales that burns its way into your head. Reading it is almost like being there watching the events unfold. The narrative makes the outlandish grunge-tech future come to life and it is easy to see how this tale inspired the making of a movie.
It is a powerful start and the rest of the book does not disappoint. From the anonymous barfly world of "The Belonging Kind", up into the dying orbit of an old Russian space station in "Red Star, Winter Orbit" and back to the seedy hacker world of "Burning Chrome" Gibson delivers a set of tales for which the phrase "assault on the senses" is no exaggeration.
The book is a fine introduction to both Gibson and the cyber-punk genre and it is a book that every SF fan should own and re-read regularly. If you like it and to want to explore similar work, I'd suggest "A Good Old Fashioned Future" by Bruce Sterling, or the "Mirrorshades" anthology.
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2013
These are a collection of short stories written by Gibson, sometimes with the help of collaborators. They all focus on a future cyber dystopia where the mind and machines are merging through drugs, dreams and electrodes. The first is about Johnny Mnemonic a living storage device for industrial and gang-land secrets. The Gernsback Continuum is about alternate realities from our past breaking into the future. Perhaps the strangest story is The Belonging Kind that has echoes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Four of the most developed stories are the Hinterlands which takes you to a world where humans face first contact and where they are trying to deal with the consequences, Red Star Winter Orbit about the final days of a Russian Space Station, Dogfight about a challenger to a veteran video game fighter and Burning Chrome about hackers taking down a gangland leader.

But for me the best two stories are The Winter Market and New Rose Hotel. New Rose Hotel is about corporate power struggles between different zaibatsu and how they play their cyber games. The Winter Market is about creating a cyber-superstar and her rise and fall, her addictions and her dreams. These are both very powerful stories that take you deep into Gibson's future world.

For anyone who loves Gibson's work these are a must have, but for new reader perhaps it is better to start with the longer books as in the short format it can be hard to understand his descriptions and the images that he uses. They are hard technically if you have never read him before.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 September 2007
It can be stated that it is worthy for one to learn English only to be able to read NEW ROSE HOTEL in the original. No translation can do justice to Gibson's fresh prose. I realize that the cannon-setters might not agree, however, for me, these are the BEST 28 pages ever written in English. With Gibson SF entered its Golden Age.

All of the short stories contained are excellent. However, my favorites are all of the three Sprawl ones: JOHNY MNEMONIC, NEW ROSE HOTEL and BURNING CHROME; at par is the Soviet retro (nowadays) HINTERLANDS.

Never before or since have I came upon comparable poetic dreamscapes of futuristic noir dystopia. The images are so concentrated they just burst from the reader's mind to create a detailed alternative reality. And it is not that the Novels are diluted - they are just more of the good stuff!

My advice: read BURNING CHROME *AFTER* the famous trilogy (Neuromancer,Count Zero,Mona Lisa Overdrive. They will help you understand the precursor ideas for the rich atmospheric world that followed.
[Do not watch the NEW ROSE HOTEL movie. Do so for JOHNY MNEMONIC neither. They do no justice to these literature gems].

Highly Recommended!
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on 9 March 2014
First read this on paper a few decades ago. I didn't enjoy it fisrt time; having come right from Neuromancer I thought it was another novel in the series.
Just done with the collection this morning and as a proper grown up I loved it. I have grown up reading Gibson and his own fiction has developed in parallel. This collection of short stories shows no sign of being first published in 1986, his ideas are still bleeding edge today. It informs and deepens the world of the sprawl so is required reading for anyone wanting to understand Gibson's fiction. When I got to the end of the book I have realised I need to revisit the sprawl yet again for th 'nth' time. Time to settle the trodes on the temples and jack in methinks...
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on 16 May 2015
I feel like I'm coming to the party a bit late, as Burning Chrome belongs to a genre which isn't the latest literary fashion anymore. But this doesn't matter. The social anxieties addressed throughout the stories are still relevant (perhaps even more relevant) today and this is certainly not a book which is trapped in its time.

The short story format means that it is really easy to dip in and out of, so if you are looking for a book to read on your commute, or if you only get a few minutes to read each day, your enjoyment of Burning Chrome won't suffer.
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on 21 February 2016
This is an amazing short story collection whose common denominator is the quality of the writing. Without a doubt, it is one of the finest short story collections I've read in any genre, including mainstream literature. Gibson's lean, lyrical prose sparkles on every page. In the "Sprawl" series of short stories collected in this anthology ("Johnny Mnemonic", "New Rose Hotel", "Burning Chrome", etc.) Gibson gives vivid, explosive vignettes on the lives of data couriers and cyberspace hackers in the same universe as his critically acclaimed "Cyberspace" trilogy. Yet he is just as good when he steps outside this universe, as witnessed by his poignant "Winter Market" and his collaboration with Bruce Sterling ("Red Star, Winter Orbit".). Anyone interesed in reading some of Gibson's finest prose won't be disappointed.
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on 11 October 2000
Gibson gives his best in the hard work of recalling, fixing and arranging moments in short, moving and touchy stories. Great stories like "Burning Chrome", "Fragments of a hologram rose", "Jhonny Mnemonic" or "New Rose Hotel" show the hints of the world he unrolls in his novels, but maybe the most wonderful thing is seeing him at work on completly different styles than usual, like in the astinishing "Hinterand". A great collection, a must to every Gibson-fan.
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on 10 January 2013
This is a well-written, compelling collection.

If like me you grew up with 'defictionalised' versions of many of the technologies described by Gibson, it's possible to overlook the breath-taking level of innovation in his writing: the interesting thing is that despite this, there is a rawness and a freshness that grabs the reader here: even though it's almost thirty years old, and even though elements of Gibson's cyberpunk vision have now been endlessly recycled in popular culture.

Although elements of this imagined future are horribly outdated, this doesn't necessarily detract from the stories... possibly because they're really about the characters anyway, rather than the technology, and the characters are mainly sharply observed, nuanced and sympathetic.

So when, for instance, we read about a young woman who is desperate for the cybernetic implants she feels will help her become a 'simstim' star, we know the story isn't really about cybernetics - it's about her hopes and dreams, and an industry that sells fantasies to vulnerable young people.

Just good writing.
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