It is certainly time to blog about books. These days there are no point in writing reviews on books since wikipedia got it all covered already. So to get the plot and general idea with this book I recommend that you wander in that general direction instead. To add some value I will just add some thoughts.
In the book: the net is a central concept in a prophetic way. Lots of cool stuff is happening on the net. In one part of the story the main characters are wired so that their corporate board can follow their every move. Not all places they go are "wired" though which scares the hell out of them. For real: think wireless all over and the anxiety of not having a mobile connection.
In the book: data havens has been set up in Grenada, Singapore and Luxemburg. For real: thinking about Malta where betting companies got their servers. Other non-western countries with interesting approaches to data piracy.
In the book: the USSR is still existant and seem to be about as nice as the US. They are thought of as merely an old not so modern way of running things. The corporation Rizome that the main characters work for has some definite (democratic) socialist traits. For real: the USSR is gone and there are no socialist corporations.
In the book: weaponry - countries that are not vienna conventions signees got some really cool stuff. Lots of remoting where small drones carry out tasks like shooting down an opponent with machine guns and lots of creative uses of drugs and chemicals. For real: not so much....
In the book: other cool stuff. A sun tan that makes your skin go black. Scop - artificially created protein. Many are afraid of normally grown food containing myriads of organisms. Romance - pills that makes you synthetically fall in love with someone. For real: well we got quorn and viagra.
Given it is 23 years old this book is amazing how fresh this book feels. Science fiction put in the near future can fail utterly but this is not the case here. This book kinda reminds me of Philip K. Dicks The man in the high castle
. It is set in a parallell reality where Germany and Japan won the world. Islands in the net was not imagined as a parallell reality by Sterling but since the world went down another path is has the same feel about it.