Schismatrix-Stand Alone-4/5

By Bruce Sterling

Spread thin, mankind struggles to hold itself together.

2017-03-02_SA Schismatrix cover

Mankind has scattered throughout the stars, inhabiting every celestial body with enough size and value to justify a colony. Within these communities various cliques spring up, each propagating their own model for an orderly society. Over time new cliques form, pushing old ones to the fringe in an ongoing war of politics and economics.

The story follows Abelard Lindsay as he navigates the tumultuous sea of ideologies. Each chapter reads like its own short story. Abelard repeatedly reinvents himself to adapt to changing circumstances, sometimes changing so drastically that it’s hard to believe this is the same character.

The text itself is a good, challenging read. The story raises numerous questions about society and identity, but rarely lingers on any one topic long enough to reach any conclusions. Instead it is left to the audience to engage these topics further. It’s difficult to walk away with any real conclusions, and I believe that’s by design. It mimics the central challenge of the story, maintaining a sense of self in an ocean of ever changing ideologies.

+Strong Ideas
+Strong Setting
*Challenging Writing
*Complex Characters
*Fragmented Plot


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5 thoughts on “Schismatrix-Stand Alone-4/5

  1. Always like reading your reviews when I stumble upon them. Are you drawn to open endings? I’m not often a fan of them but sometimes, (Inception comes to mind) they work. Do you like this book because it forced you to come to your own conclusion or despite it?

    • Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say.
      I don’t know that I have a preference when it comes to endings, other than the general idea that the ending needs to fit.
      For example, a story like the Hobbit is rooted in a quest or adventure, and a new status quo is a natural point for a story like that to end.
      Stories like Sherlock Holmes or Kino’s Journey, in contrast, are a series of cyclical adventures, so in many ways their natural ending is simply “this is where the story and the audience part ways.”

      I think this story made the right choice in leaving some things for audiences to determine for themselves.
      By the same token I think Inception intentionally recreated the protagonist’s conflict for the audience.
      There was actually really strong video on YouTube’s Wisecrack channel about how Inception is also drawing parallels between dreams and cinema.

      I admire authors who challenge themselves with such daunting concepts, though sometimes it’s also nice to enjoy a simple adventure.
      It’s all about variety and balance.

      • Thank you. I think I’ll add that to my list of discussion topics. It’s a new category that I’m going to start next week. I think this would certainly make for a good discussion topic. Thank you for the suggestion.

  2. Pingback: Children of the Mind-EG 04- 3/5 | Write Thoughts

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