Yesterday, in the middle of a confused state while reading Zeitgeist
, the Bruce Sterling novel starring Leggy Starlitz, I re-read the three Leggy Starlitz stories that I could recall.
"Hollywood Kremlin" introduced the conman/hustler to the readers of F&SF
in October 1990. It deals with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of organized crime in the splintered off regions in a brilliant, almost gonzo, way. It features Khoklov (former Soviet fighter pilot turned smuggler) and Tamara (corrupt party apparatchik).
"Are You For 86?" was an original story in Globalhead
, which also collected the earlier story. It introduced Mr. Judy and Vanna, the lesbian lovers who had a one-night stand with Leggy and may or may not have produced a child. This deals with the radical right of the 80s/early 90s recapitulating the radical left of the 60s, among other things.
"The Littlest Jackal" returned Leggy to the pages of F&SF
in March 1996 and was collected in A Good Old-Fashioned Future
. It marks Khoklov's return and deals with various bad craziness with what was intended to be an "intellectual property" scam in some Finnish islands (or are they Swedish? Or Russian? Or...? - depends on who you ask) morphing into weirder things as deeply bent mercenaries enter the picture.
While there is a single trace of something that could be construed as fantasy (or as Leggy spieling some BS) these are basically mainstream or a-millisecond-from-now SF pieces and are all highly recommended (as are the collections that contain them) but the novel still stubbornly insisted on being a very mainstream-feeling symbolic fantasy and wasn't particularly successful. But at least I feel I was right in remembering that the stories weren't so much like that.
Incidentally, the three together are something like 127 pages which, back when, would have almost been enough to be passed off as a novel/collection by themselves. Sterling's never done a series of novels but the Leggy Starlitz stories+novel and his Shaper/Mechanist stories+Schismatrix
come the closest to breaking that rule (followed by the "Chattanooga" stories which are a story series, but have no novel to go with).