Robot Artists & Black Swans

Robot Artists & Black Swans : The Italian Fantascienza Stories

3.43 (21 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Introduction by 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 8-13 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


The Godfather of Cyberpunk has emerged in this new collection of Italian-themed fantasy and science-fiction stories. Bruce Sterling now introduces us to his alter ego: Bruno Argento, the preeminent author of fantascienza. Sterling, writing as Argento, skillfully combines cutting-edge technology with art, mythology, and history. "It's as if Sterling is the only writer paying attention."--Locus In the Esoteric City, a Turinese businessman's act of necromancy is catching up with him. The Black Swan, a rogue hacker, programs his way into alternate versions of Italy. A Parthenopean assassin awaits his destiny in the arms of a two-headed noblewoman. Infuriating to both artists and scientists, a robot wheelchair makes uncategorizable creations. Bruno Argento is the acknowledged master of Italian science fiction. Yet that same popular fantascienza author also is known in America--as Bruce Sterling. In Robot Artists and Black Swans, we present the first collection of their uniquely visionary Italian-themed fiction, including tales never before published in English.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 27.94mm | 383g
  • United States
  • English
  • 1616963298
  • 9781616963293
  • 509,664

Review quote

"Imagine an American science fiction writer from Texas, transplanted to Italy, now writing in the voice of an Italian alter ego, and you might have a sense of the gonzo delights inhabiting Bruce Sterling's Robot Artists and Black Swans."
--Washington Post "Sterling's latest collection is rich and wide, a cross between Primo Levi and Jorge Luis Borges--with a touch of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. I love it."
--Greg Bear, author of The Unfinished Land "Sterling is a visionary, equally at home writing about the future as he is of the past, and his inspired prose continues to provoke and satisfy. For his latest foray in storytelling, Sterling adopts the Italian persona, Bruno Argento, 'an unlikely "cyber-punk" Texan who somehow decides to become Turinese, ' in order to mine the treasures of his adoptive country in this series of fantastic (or fantascienza) stories. As Argento, Sterling embraces his new identity wholeheartedly, evoking such former denizens of the locale as Italo Calvino, Primo Levi (who wrote sf under the moniker Damiano Malabaila), even Friedrich Nietzche (who resided there while madness overtook him). In the titular 'Black Swan, ' a tech blogger follows a suave industrial spy across multiple Turins, each one on a different trajectory--watch for cameos from Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. The robot artist of the title appears in 'Robot in Roses, ' in which an art critic accompanies (and attempts to explain) The Winkler, a robot in the form of a wheelchair, as it navigates the ruins of a radioactive future Rome. Sharp, witty, erudite dialogue keeps the stories moving along."
--Booklist "Bruce Sterling "literally" takes you to Hell and back and back in this sprawling, delirious tour of an Italy jarred just slightly off-kilter, parallel universe, nineteenth-century terrorists and bicephalous recluses, cigar-smoking mummies and wandering performance artists who happen to be wheelchairs."
--Peter Watts, author of The Freeze-Frame Revolution "A delightful mix of high fantasy and futuristic speculation featuring royalty, noblemen, bandits, and other scoundrels."
--Kirkus "Bruce Sterling's Italian short fiction is like an Asti Spumante from the vineyard where futurism was first fermented."
--Charles Stross, author of the Merchant Princes Series "Utterly unlike Sterling and unmistakably the work of Sterling: Robot Artists & Black Swans is a sardonic, madcap tour through the grand passions and strange centuries of Italian sf."
--Cory Doctorow, author of Walkaway "Playfully spanning a range of genres, modes and ideas, the Bruno Argento stories show one of the great science fictional minds at work, processing exciting new ideas in a novel context and reaching towards an increasingly uncertain future . . . Both 'Robot In Roses' and 'Black Swan' are powerful examples of Sterling at his best, and are reason enough on their own to make the collection essential reading."
--Fantasy Hive "Full of clever and original lateral-thinking insights into society and the universe, still rife with outsider characters and streetwise scenario . . . [a] thoroughly entertaining collection of nimble and bright tales."
--Locus "Set largely in Turin, Italy, this urbane collection of seven stories from futurist Sterling (Pirate Utopia) reflects the author's wholehearted embrace of both the post-human future and Italian culture. The narrator of the 2061-set "Kill the Moon" is charitably embarrassed by the sentimentality of his countrymen ("Why are we Italians the only people who still believe that space flight is romantic?") as they giddily celebrate Italy's belated mission to the moon. For readers unsatisfied with only one future Italy, "Black Swan" offers a tour through a series of alternate versions of the country, imagining a technologically advanced Italy built on the computer work of fantasist Italo Calvino but threatened by the skullduggery of underworld kingpin Nicholas Sarkozy. In "Pilgrims of the Round World," a couple facing a long journey from 1463 Turin to the court of the Queen of Jerusalem in Cyprus argue over the value of art just as ferociously as a 2187 art dealer and a post-human anthropologist debate the nature of robotic creation in "Robot in Roses." Sterling's clever, compassionate work will appeal to fans of intelligent cyberpunk."
--Publishers Weekly "It's all here, this time with an Italian flavor: the inventive tech, the meticulously detailed futures, the stylish and sardonic prose, the creative adjectival combinations. Set in Turin, Rome, and an upgraded Hell (Italian designers are good), these stories could only have been written by Bruce Sterling. Treat yourself to one of the most original voices in science fiction."
--Nancy Kress, author of After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall "Bruno Argento is the Calvino of the Cyberpunks, and in this new collection Bruce Sterling channels his Turinese alter ego to conjure dark and wondrous visions of alternate Europes past, present and future. A perfectly curated selection of the best recent works from a living master of short form SF, Robot Artists & Black Swans shows what can be achieved when a writer fully embraces the possibilities of becoming a character in one of his own stories."
--Christopher Brown, author of Failed State "A fantastic fantascienza concoction of percolated ideas and concepts . . . 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."
--Starburst "Sterling emerges as an Italian cultural figure, within hailing distance of Italo Calvino and Federico Fellini."
--Rudy Rucker, author of The Hacker and the Ants "A lot of punch is packed into these seven stories. I didn't know what to expect out of this collection, but in the end I was thoroughly entertained. If Bruno Argento does indeed exist, then the residents of Italy are lucky to have him."
--MT Void
show more

About Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling (Schismatrix, The Zenith Angle, Zeitgeist) is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, editor, columnist, and critic. He is perhaps best known as the author of ten visionary science-fiction novels and as a founder of the cyberpunk movement. He was also the editor of the quintessential cyberpunk anthology, Mirrorshades. Sterling's much-heralded nonfiction includes The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier and The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things. A renowned expert on technology, Sterling has appeared on ABC's Nightline, the BBC's The Late Show, MTV, TechTV, and Wired, where he is a featured blogger, as well as in Time, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fortune, Nature, La Stampa, La Repubblica, and many other venues. Sterling splits his time among the cities of Austin, Turin, and Belgrade.
show more

Rating details

21 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 29% (6)
4 24% (5)
3 24% (5)
2 10% (2)
1 14% (3)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X