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29 August 1991
The Difference Engine 
by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.
Gollancz, 384 pp., £7.99, July 1991, 9780575050730
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... the enemies of mechanism had changed their minds? The Difference Engine is one answer, in the form of an ‘uchronic’ novel: set in ‘no time’, instead of Utopia’s ‘no place’. Gibson and Sterling propose that the Duke of Wellington is killed by a Luddite bomb in 1831. Tired of internecine struggle between Tories and workers, the country turns to the ‘Industrial Radical Party’ for a ...

Grunge Futurism

Julian Loose

4 November 1993
Virtual Light 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 336 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 670 84081 5
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Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Post-Modern Science Fiction 
by Scott Bukatman.
Duke, 416 pp., £15.95, August 1993, 0 8223 1340 5
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... the worst when they come across a teenager equipped with a computer and a copy of Gibson’s book. Neuromancer was the first novel to win all three major science fiction awards, and according to BruceSterling, cyberpunk’s main polemicist, it sent the entire genre ‘lurching from its cave into the bright sunlight of the modern zeitgeist’. Although Gibson has collaborated on an alternative ...

Oops

Ian Stewart

4 November 1993
The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier 
by Bruce Sterling.
Viking, 328 pp., £16.99, January 1993, 0 670 84900 6
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The New Hacker’s Dictionary 
edited by Eric Raymond.
MIT, 516 pp., £11.75, October 1992, 0 262 68079 3
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Approaching Zero: Data Crime and the Computer Underworld 
by Bryan Clough and Paul Mungo.
Faber, 256 pp., £4.99, March 1993, 0 571 16813 2
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... computer systems. The New Hacker’s Dictionary would strongly disagree, and call him a ‘cracker’ – in which case I suppose the appropriate title would be The Cracker Hackdown. Hackers in the Sterling sense communicate by email (electronic mail) using bulletin boards – individual computers, ‘nodes’ on the global network, which maintain files that anyone with a modem and the right phone ...

Sterling​ and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam

20 November 2008
... Wilson made the following note on the telegram: ‘Yes, I very much agree.’ Eleven days later, he relayed his grave misgivings about American policy to the US ambassador to London, David Bruce. If America continued in its escalation of the conflict, he warned, it could cause the biggest rupture in Anglo-American relations since the Suez crisis. But this threat was never carried through ...

Sheeped

Julian Loose

30 January 1992
The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 241 13144 8
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... glanced at the wasted door as casually as he might a popped wine cork, then turned his attentions toward me. No complex feelings here. He looked at me like I was another fixture. Would that I were. BruceSterling has recently celebrated Murakami’s ‘bold willingness to go straight over-the-top’, but Wonderland’s brand of Science Fiction owes more to the winning cartoonism of Kurt Vonnegut ...

Abel the Nomad

Bruce​ Chatwin

22 November 1979
Desert, Marsh and Mountain 
by Wilfred Thesiger.
Collins, 304 pp., £9.95
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... He is tied to a most rigorous time-table and committed to the increase of his herds and his sons. It is no accident that such words as ‘stock’, ‘capital’, ‘pecuniary’ and even ‘sterling’ come from the pastoral world. And it is the nomad’s fatal yearning for increase that causes the endless round of raid and feud, and finally tempts him to succumb to settlement. By these ...

Crazy America

Edward Said

19 March 1981
... effaced: there occurred an extraordinary amnesia. We were back to the old basics. Iran was reduced to ‘fundamentalist screwballs’ by Bob Ingle in the Atlanta Constitution on 23 January; Claire Sterling in the Washington Post of 23 January argued that the Iran story was an aspect of ‘Fright Decade I’, the war against civilisation by terrorists. For Bill Green on the same page of the Post, ‘the ...

Quibbling, Wrangling

Jeremy Waldron: How to draft a constitution

12 September 2019
Revolutionary Constitutions: Charismatic Leadership and the Rule of Law 
by Bruce​ Ackerman.
Harvard, 457 pp., £25.95, May, 978 0 674 97068 7
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... they were submitted to the smaller parties for ratification. But it quickly became apparent that even between the main protagonists there was little or no consensus on constitutional principles. Bruce Ackerman says that the events he describes in his new book do ‘not support the now standard view of South Africa as a paradigmatic case of “negotiated transition” in which elites managed the ...

That’s democracy

Theo Tait: Dalton Trumbo

2 March 2000
Johnny Got His Gun 
by Dalton Trumbo.
Prion, 222 pp., £5.99, May 1999, 1 85375 324 6
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... a distinguished cast, including Donald Sutherland as Jesus Christ. Trumbo’s career recovered and he paid off his debts by working on big-budget projects like Papillon (1973). Dalton Trumbo (1977), Bruce Cook’s genial and thorough biography, suggests that the life he designed for himself ‘rivals, and really surpasses any literary work he has undertaken’. He was born in Grand Junction, Colorado ...

I want to love it

Susan Pedersen: What on earth was he doing?

18 April 2019
Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Little, Brown, 800 pp., £35, February, 978 1 4087 0741 8
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... in 1915 in neutral Switzerland – their nations being at war – and then returned to Egypt. In 1918 they moved to Vienna, where Eric’s sister, Nancy, was born in 1920. Family connections and the sterling Percy brought from Egypt allowed a comfortable existence for a time, but the move was a disaster. How was an English clerk to find work in inflation-ridden Vienna? Eric was never clear quite what his ...
9 March 1995
... 500 to the Party during the Thatcher years); Sir Gordon White (head of the US arm of Hanson, which gave £652,000 to the Tories and £100,000 to the Centre for Policy Studies in 1981-90); Sir Jeffrey Sterling (head of P & O, which gave £370,000 during the Thatcher years); Peter Palumbo (Chairman of the Arts Council but also owner of Rugarth Investment Trust, which gave £268,099 to the Tories in 1986-8 ...
4 January 1996
The European Rescue of the Nation-State 
by Alan Milward.
Routledge, 506 pp., £17.99, May 1994, 0 415 11133 1
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The Frontier of National Sovereignty: History and Theory 1945-1992 
by Alan Milward.
Routledge, 248 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 415 11784 4
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Jean Monnet: The First Statesman of Interdependence 
by François Duchêne.
Norton, 278 pp., $35, January 1995, 0 393 03497 6
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... as a political operator across national boundaries in Europe, was the closeness of the association he formed with the US political élite – not only the Dulles brothers, but Harriman, McCloy, Ball, Bruce, Acheson and others – during his years in New York and Washington. Monnet’s intimacy with the highest levels of power in the hegemonic state of the hour was unique. He was to become widely ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers

6 March 2008
... he said. ‘He raised all his daughters as if they were boys. It was his way or the highway.’ ‘Isn’t there a danger in the American system,’ I said, ‘in creating such a platform for sterling brilliance at school that the rest of life is a struggle to maintain it?’ ‘Absolutely,’ Bill Lamb said. ‘That’s our greatest challenge. We have a lot of kids who never leave high school ...

The Uninvited

Jeremy Harding: At The Rich Man’s Gate

3 February 2000
... see discretionary awards and other ad hoc measures as liable to weaken, rather than buttress the Convention. Some people believe the Convention is obsolete in any case. ‘The present arangements,’ Bruce Anderson wrote in the Spectator last year, ‘commit us to obligations which we can never meet, so they ought to be repudiated.’ He argued that 50 asylum seekers a year in Britain was a manageable ...

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