Action & Adventure
Published: Nov 15, 2016
Original introduction by Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Gun Machine
Who are these bold rebels pillaging their European neighbors in the name of revolution? The Futurists! Utopian pirate warriors of the diminutive Regency of Carnaro, scourge of the Adriatic Sea. Mortal enemies of communists, capitalists, and even fascists (to whom they are not entirely unsympathetic).
The ambitious Soldier-Citizens of Carnaro are led by a brilliant and passionate coterie of the perhaps insane. Lorenzo Secondari, World War I veteran, engineering genius, and leader of Croatian raiders. Frau Piffer, Syndicalist manufacturer of torpedos at a factory run by and for women. The Ace of Hearts, a dashing Milanese aristocrat, spymaster, and tactical savant. And the Prophet, a seductive warrior-poet who leads via free love and military ruthlessness.
Fresh off of a worldwide demonstration of their might, can the Futurists engage the aid of sinister American traitors and establish global domination?
Praise for *Pirate Utopia*
[STARRED REVIEW] “Noted sci-fi maven and futurologist Sterling (Love Is Strange, 2012, etc.) takes a side turn in the slipstream in this offbeat, sometimes-puzzling work of dieselpunk-y alternative history. Resident in Turin, hometown of Calvino, for a dozen years, Sterling has long been experimenting with what the Italians call fantascienza, a mashup of history and speculation that’s not quite science fiction but is kin to it. Take, for example, the fact that Harry Houdini once worked for the Secret Service, add to it the fact that H.P. Lovecraft once worked for Houdini, and ecco: why not posit Lovecraft as a particularly American kind of spook, “not that old-fashioned, cloak-and-dagger, European style of spy,” who trundles out to Fiume to see what’s what in the birthplace of Italian futurism-turned-fascism? Lovecraft is just one of the historical figures who flits across Sterling’s pages, which bear suitably futuristic artwork, quite wonderful, by British illustrator John Coulthart. Among the others are Woodrow Wilson and Adolf Hitler, to say nothing of Gabriele D’Annunzio and Benito Mussolini. “Seen from upstream, most previous times seem mad,” notes graphic novelist Warren Ellis in a brief introduction, but the Futurist project seems particularly nutty from this distance; personified by Lorenzo Secondari, a veteran of World War I who leads the outlaw coalition called the Strike of the Hand Committee in the “pirate utopia” of the soi disant Republic of Carnaro, its first task is to build some torpedoes and then turn them into “radio-controlled, airborne Futurist torpedoes,” not the easiest thing considering the technological limitations of the time. A leader of the “Desperates,” who “came from anywhere where life was hard, but honor was still bright,” Secondari and The Prophet—D’Annunzio, that is—recognize no such limitations and discard anything that doesn’t push toward the future. So why not a flying pontoon boat with which to sail off to Chicago, and why not a partnership with Houdini to combat world communism? A kind of Ragtime for our time: provocative, exotic, and very entertaining.”
—Kirkus, starred review
“In Pirate Utopia, Bruce Sterling has brought off a minor miracle, an allegory on our present geopolitical danza di morte that doesn’t feel remotely allegorical but instead stays true to its dieselpunk setting: a skewed Fiume crawling with Italian Futurists, Balkan anarcho-syndicalists, and demented Gernsbackian visionaries of all stripes and genders, their adventures documented through hilarious deadpan prose and John Coulthart’s dazzling graphics.”
—James Morrow, author of The Philosopher’s Apprentice and The Madonna and the Starship
“A wild satire about serious issues. Sterling's wonder-romp is perfectly matched by Coulthart's superb designs. The best of their brilliant generation, Sterling and his collaborator have produced a book to treasure. Bravo!”
—Michael Moorcock, author of the Elric of Melniboné series and The Whispering Swarm
“Bruce Sterling maintains that J. G. Ballard was the most accurate and brilliant prophet ever to arise from the ranks of science fiction. I have to disagree, and hereby nominate Sterling himself for that honor. Although his newest, Pirate Utopia, a rigorously gonzo counterfactual, is not one of the thickly detailed futures he has often previously imagined, it nonetheless captures the feelings and vectors and strange attractors of the present day in a most startling and entertaining fashion. As politics, culture and individual lifestyles warp and mutate and shatter around us, dynamic individuals learn how to assemble new and more satisfying outlaw lives from the shards. Sterling's intimate acquaintance with modern Europe powers this compact powerhouse of a book, and his insights into the human soul enliven the vivid, heterogeneous cast. Using the powers consecrated by my ethnicity, I hereby dub Sterling an honorary Italian, and a worthy successor to our Futurist heritage!”
—Paul Di Filippo, author of A Palazzo in the Stars
“A splendidly illustrated Futurist romp, reminiscent of the comedic elements in Pynchon’s Gravity's Rainbow, Pirate Utopia riffs on real, recondite modern history to truly bizarre effect.”
—Gwyneth Jones, author of Life and The Grasshopper’s Child
“I don't know why a little weirdo like me is blurbing a demigod like Bruce Sterling, but listen, little weirdos: the Pirate Utopia is calling for you! Build the future before it gets built for you; read this book.”
—Nick Mamatas, author of Sensation and I Am Providence
“Imagine if Hunter S. Thompson traveled in time to the Great War in order to write The Futurist Manifesto and you'd come a little closer to envisioning the surreal, madcap—and yet almost entirely factual! —adventure that is Bruce Sterling's Pirate Utopia. It is sly, smart, and subversive—and also very, very funny.”
—Lavie Tidhar, author of Central Station and A Man Lies Dreaming
“...delightful...engaging...a visual treat.”
Praise for Bruce Sterling
"He understands technology’s present and future better than anyone in the field."
—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother
"And if you miss the sensation of having science fiction stretch your brainmeat a bit, of those powerful and irreversible up-endings of the way you see certain things, and you're not aware of Bruce Sterling? Go find him.”
“[H]is highly caffeinated energy is hard to resist.”
“Bruce Sterling has managed to pen a delivery vessel for a futuristic, anarchistic dystopian idea of human potential."
—New York Journal of Books
"Science fiction that makes the rest of near-future SF look toylike by comparison. It's as if Sterling is the only writer paying attention to what's happening in the real world."
"Love him or hate him, Bruce Sterling always has something important to say. . . .”
"Bruce Sterling remains one of the key SF writers"
Praise for the works of Bruce Sterling
—New York Times Book Review on The Difference Engine (with William Gibson)
"Climb aboard Sterling’s speculative roller coaster; a dazzling, eye opening ride through the modern world....”
—Village Voice on Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology
"A haunting and lyrical triumph"
—Time, on Holy Fire
“A comedic thriller for the Homeland Security era.”
—Entertainment Weekly on The Zenith Angle
"An arresting slice of future history”
—Kirkus on Schismatrix Plus
"A tour de force"
—Benjamin Rosenbaum, author of The Ant King and Other Stories on The Caryatids
—Chicago Sun-Times on Zeitgeist
"Written with humor and intelligence, this book is highly recommended.”
Bruce Sterling ("Schismatrix," "The Zenith Angle," "Zeitgeist") is an internationally-bestselling author, journalist, editor, columnist, and critic. He is perhaps best known for his ten visionary science fiction novels, as a founder of the cyberpunk movement, and as the editor of the quintessential cyberpunk anthology "Mirrorshades." His 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," and "TechTV," and in "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.
Warren Ellis is the internationally-bestselling author of the graphic novels "Transmetropolitan," "Fell," "Red," and "Planetary," and the novels "Gun Machine" and "Crooked Little Vein." His graphic novel "Iron Man Extermis" was the basis for the blockbuster "Iron Man 3" movie. He has written for "Vice" and "Wired UK" and is currently at work on various projects. Ellis lives in London.
John Coulthart is the World Fantasy Award-winning illustrator and designer of the iconic "Steampunk" anthology series, the "The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases," "Lovecraft's Monsters," and "Clive Barker s AZ of Horror." He was the Artist Guest of Honour at Ars Necronomica 2015. Coulthart lives in Manchester, England.