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Burning Chrome [Hardcover]

William Gibson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 1 1986
In these stories Gibson charts the unchecked rise of multinational corporations and the addictively transcendent potential of cyberspace.

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From Amazon

When "Burning Chrome," the title story in William Gibson's first short story collection, appeared, it grabbed readers by the collar and shook them up a bit. Science fiction in the late '70s had grown a little bit stale and, worse, safe. "Burning Chrome" offered a fresh look at a future that was gritty, real, and more than a little dangerous. These stories brought high tech out of antiseptic university laboratories and corporate boardrooms and put it in the streets and alleyways where people found their own uses for it. Sometimes those uses were even legal.

The philosophy of cyberpunk, the movement that Gibson's early books kicked off, is most explicitly stated in "The Gernsbach Continuum," with its rejection of the '30s ideal of a future of flying cars and shining cities. But the real meat of this collection is found in those stories where Gibson involves us with the people who inhabit his world. The technical boy of "Johnny Mnemonic" and the thief-turned-game-player of "Dogfight" (cowritten with Michael Swanwick) would be right at home on the same streets. Most intense and more enigmatic is the recording engineer of "The Winter Market," who is overwhelmingly attracted to and repulsed by the greatest artist he ever worked with. Still, "Burning Chrome," with its tale of vengeance and high-stakes theft, remains the centerpiece of this collection. Read it and you will know why William Gibson became and remains one of the top writers in science fiction. --Greg L. Johnson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In his enthusiastic description of the '30s and '40s "moderne" style of industrial design (featured in one of these stories), Gibson might be writing about his own work: "The change was only skin-deep; under the streamlined chrome shell, you'd find the same Victorian mechanism . . . . It was all a stage set, a series of elaborate props for playing at living in the future." That dexterous, shallow artifice has won Gibson awards and fervent fans (especially for his first novel, Neuromancer but beneath it is something old, worn and tired. Thus "Johnny Mnemonic," whose body computer stores secret information, is just a variation of Mr. Memory from The 39 Steps. Gibson's gangsters, corrupt industrialists, young techies and lowlifes eager to belong to any in-group that will have them, are cliches without conviction. This weak collection of 10 short stories seems to have been rushed out to cash in on Gibson's current popularity. Paperback rights to Berkley.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
i put the shotgun in an Adidas bag and padded it out with four pairs of tennis socks, not my style at all, but that was what I was aiming for: If they think you're crude, go technical; if they think you're technical, go crude. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings ... Jan. 24 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm a sci-fi fan from way back and particularly fond of short stories. I'd never read any stuff by Gibson, so I thought that Burning Chrome would be a good place to start. The blurb on the back of the book had quotes saying "father of the term cyberspace" and "truly original" and "new classic that has revitalized the genre" etc. The funny thing is that all that stuff was true, but I still didn't like the book. I guess the best way to put it is that he's got great ideas, but that's not enough to make a sci-fi story rise to the level of good literature. You still have to be a good writer, and in particular, Gibson's characters stink. They're one-dimensional and poorly realized; he's in love with technology but not so good at people. Maybe Gibson would be better at a full length novel; not everyone can write shorts. (my favorite sci-fi shorts still have to be Ray Bradbury's) His ideas were interesting enough for me to give him another try, though, and read Neuromancer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic SF Short Stories March 18 2004
Format:Paperback
Burning Chrome is a collection of ten short stories by cyber-punk innovator William Gibson, three of which are collaborations with other authors. It's an eclectic ride as a whole. There is no overriding theme that ties all of the stories together - they range from cyberpunk to surreal. Gibson's prose can be very poetic and he does an excellent job of setting the mood in each story. Even when his characters aren't very likeable, you can still identify with their emotions.
"Johnny Mnemonic", "New Rose Hotel" and "Burning Chrome" are written in the same "Sprawl" setting as many of Gibson's novels. They are sharp and explosive cyberpunk stories that grab your attention and run. "The Gernsback Continuum" and "The Belonging Kind" are trips through what could be present day America with surreal twists. "Red Star, Winter Orbit", written with Bruce Sterling, is the poignant tale of an aging Russian cosmonaut on an equally aging space station. "Hinterlands" is an eerie view of how far humans will go to satisfy the need for progress and exploration. "Fragments of a Hologram Rose", "The Winter Market" and "Dogfight" are powerful studies of emotion, need, and what it means to be human.
Overall, I enjoyed Burning Chrome. Gibson's writing style is fun to read - he can establish mood and atmosphere in a few short sentences. I also like that he uses technology as a means not an end - the focus in the stories is how people interact with each other and technology intstead of showcasing what a cool idea a particular future technology would be. His stories tend to deal with the grittier side of human nature, and are not always comfortable to read, but they make you think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Too short. Oct. 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
All of the stories in this brief collection were astounding. Never very involved with hard science, opting more for dark, intense noir shaded by futuristic technology, Gibson creates a variety of worlds that amaze you with their detail and imagery. He is one of the few writers who approaches science-fiction this way, giving his reader a view of society from the ground up. He doesn't try that often to explain why things have happened, or why the world is a certain way; instead he drops you into his stories and forces you to come to terms with his reality.
The Sprawl series, prefacing his first three novels (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive) are the clearest standouts in this collection, even though I thought "Johnny Mnemonic" tried to do too much in too little space. "New Rose Hotel" and "Burning Chrome" are absolute classics of cyberpunk, moreso than most books that find their way into the genre.
"The Gernsback Continuum" is uncommonly lighthearted for Gibson, and whether or not you believe Bruce Sterling's comments in the introduction, it's a great story. It's barely science fiction, but since the "cyberpunk" label was invented after Gibson's debut, this isn't surprising.
Gibson's collaboration with John Shirley, "The Belonging Kind", is also incredible. It's interesting to try to figure out each writer's influence. Like the previous story, it's more surreal than scientific.
"Fragments of a Hologram Rose" and "The Winter Market" are fantastic stories that combine complex plots, characters, and romance with vivid near-future settings. These are some of the most powerful statements of the effects of technology on humanity in any field of literature.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book of shorts I have read Dec 28 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This books shows the range of the writer. making it clear he can incorperate technology into various theams and plots from the simple, red star orbit. to the rose continum. taken individule each story shows a particular slant on the gritty nature of technology. Its amazing that anyone could not see the range william gibson has as a writer I would recomend this book and neuromance for anyone for a first read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the worst collection of short stories ever written. William Gibson invented the word Cyberspace and it seems he is at a rush to use it so he can tell the people who publish dictionaries it has been published and used how ever many times in necessary so his word will appear in them.
The stories are very poorly written, you have to read them over and over again to understand what is happening if you can at all. Obviously a writing course was not part of Gibson's multimedia education.
He does have some good ideas for plots but he should have given them to someone who knows how to write so they would have been good stories.
If you want a good cyber novel try the Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver. If you want a novel on a cyber being thinking it can become human try Demon Seed by Dean Koontz. For a look at the future taken over by corporations try Jennifer Government by Max Barry. There's so many sensational books about either cyberspace or the future, don't waste your money or time on Burning Chrome. All Burning Chrome is good for is in the fireplace.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars There are No Maps For These QuickSilver Territories
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2007 by NeuroSplicer
1.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe all the positive reviews
Look I know this book has a new cover, well it's had a few, the one I read had a different cover to the old mass market paperback too. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2003 by Rachael Ekaf
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
A lot of people who read Gibson bash his writing because of the superficial nature of his characters. They're missing the point. Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by "excalibur_42"
4.0 out of 5 stars I keep re-reading it...
I rather enjoyed this collection of stories, although I think Neuromancer is still his best work. I keep rereading it because everytime I see Johnny Mnemonic on TV, I want wipe... Read more
Published on June 12 2003 by P. Callaway
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, it's good, go read it
William Gibson's creative genius shines through in this collection of short stories which hold much more variation and much more bold innovation than most of his novels. Read more
Published on May 1 2003 by Christopher M. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Gibson's strongest and greatest work
A collection of short stories that exceed Neuromancer as pieces of writing. This is the work that defined Neuromancer and Gibson's cyberpunk world. Read more
Published on April 21 2002 by Max
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy Three Copies of This Book, (for house, purse, & friend)
You'll need them.
At every word along the way of these astounding stories, the mind is on fire and burns with the hunger of pure, clear art. Give this writer a medal. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid short stories set in a scary future
I first read Gibson in the short stories he sold to Omni, lo these many years ago, and when this collection came out, I was delighted to see those old friends, "Burning... Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2001 by Eric Oppen
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Gibson, pick this one up
Some great stuff here. Early ideas from Gibson, including the first appearnce of Molly Millions / Sally Shears(some of which is referenced in Neuromancer). Read more
Published on June 10 2001 by J. Inman
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