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Dirty Work

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One of the better-known female cyberpunk authors, Pat Cadigan (Synners) brings a feminist feistiness to the genre. Her latest collection of stories, Dirty Work, is a hit-and-miss affair. Cadigan is at her measured best when her plots are most complex: In stories like ”Dirty Work,” in which a tart-tongued ”pathosfinder” jacks into the mind of a filmmaker and discovers his psyche has been colonized by his devotees, she writes with sustained intelligence. But when she resorts to mere magic realism, as in ”The Sorceress in Spite of Herself,” in which a woman’s chronic cursing causes things — including her husband — to disappear, Cadigan’s one-trick plots yield two-dimensional characters and corny asides. But whether she’s describing psychic travel, cyberpunk hardware, or would-be histories of the apocalypse, Cadigan is a fearless, and sometimes peerless adventurer. B

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