by Bruce Sterling
Spectra Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0553104934
Date: 31 October 2000 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
Amazon.com: "Like Tom Clancy on PCP." That's how Bruce Sterling describes his fin-de-siècle head trip, Zeitgeist, a typically Sterling spectacle packed with verbal flash and digerati wit, along with the expected rail-gun-steady stream of well-thought-out ideas and references. His self-appraisal, as it turns out, is right on. This is a guy widely considered "another, hipper Alvin Toppler" (in the words of cyberpunk godfather John Shirley), an effortlessly intelligent master of both style and substance.
Fans will recognize Zeitgeist's antihero protagonist Leggy Starlitz from Sterling stories "Hollywood Kremlin," "Are You for 86?" and "The Littlest Jackal." The well-connected, world-class fixer is part mystic, part sleaze--sort of Uncle Enzo meets Templeton "Faceman" Peck--and his latest hustle is plying the Third World with merchandise from his all-fake, all-girl band, G-7. (Its seven talentless, Wonderbra-wearing members are known simply as the American One, the French One, the German One, etc.)
Starlitz makes use of a shady, flamboyantly weird network of state officials, bodyguards, photographers, and other assorted players to push the merchandise--action figures, lip gloss, shoes, you name it--on what one of G-7's savvier members calls the "Moslem hillbillies." But things get surreal as G-7 girls start dying, characters start explicitly referring to their purpose in the narrative, and one of Leggy's associates conspires to break G-7's most sacred rule: that the whole enterprise must end by Y2K. --Paul Hughes