The Secret History of Moscow gave us a glimpse of the kiosks filling the streets. In “Kiosk,” by Bruce Sterling, we see into their hectic world. Borislav runs a little kiosk that’s so sucessful, a woman from the EU buys him out. His customers are heart-broken at the loss of the source of their hair toys and other goods. So Borislav gets a bigger and better fabrikator, which leads to a rush through a future history full of terrible Transitions and economic war. After his fortunes peak, Borislav takes a fall, and makes his own peace.
As much as I enjoyed Borislav’s story, my favorite parts were when the story stepped aside to make some authorial observations. How medical applications can overcome resistance to disruptive technologies. The proportion of personality types attracted to a revolution and how to play them against each other. The importance of gifts given without thought of reward. All these asides are short and cast light on the story. The last one is particularly moving.
A fun and thoughtful story.