Reviews | Written by Nigel Watson 22/01/2021


Like a fancy and metaphorical Italian coffee making machine, Bruce Sterling takes the raw materials of Italian society, culture, technology, science and history and blends it into a series of short stories.

The result is a fantastic fantascienza concoction of percolated ideas and concepts. The best example is his story 'Robot in Roses.' Set in the future a robot wheelchair 'The Winkler' ambles across the world creating works of art. Artist Wolfgang Stein tries to understand how and why it is doing this, and wonders if it is something that transcends the human and the machine. In contrast, trans-human scientist Dr Jetta Kriehn considers it nothing more than a machine and deeper meanings have been foisted on its unusual actions. This leads to a long-running discussion between them about the meaning of art, science and existence as they follow the robot.

Each story takes us into different dimensions of existence flavoured by the mysterious and mystical essence of Italy. As an example, 'Black Swan' is an amusing tale of visiting parallel versions of Italy of which there are many millions. 'Esoteric City' is a more complex and stranger visitation to literally the depths of hell centred in Turin.

'Pilgrims of a Round World' is set in the Inn of Saint Cleopha, Turin. Through the eyes of the innkeepers Agnes and Ugo, we slowly learn about the vortex of political and religious dynamics of the 1400s beyond its four walls.

These complex fantasies of Italy relate to universal truths and desires conjured up by Texan Bruce Sterling's alter ego Bruno Argento as he sips his Lavazza Red coffee with a well-selected pasta. Bravo.

Release Date: March 30th