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"The Belonging Kind"
Author William Gibson and John Shirley
Country Canada
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in Shadows 4, Burning Chrome
Publication type anthology
Media type Print
Publication date 1981
Preceded by "New Rose Hotel"
Followed by "Burning Chrome"

The Belonging Kind is a science fiction short story; a collaboration between noted cyberpunk authors William Gibson and John Shirley. It was first published in the horror anthology Shadows 4 in 1981, later to be included along with several other stories in Gibson's collection Burning Chrome.

It is a departure from the Sprawl universe in which several of Gibson's novels and stories are set, taking place in a setting much more like contemporary American life.

Plot summary

The main character is Coretti, a dull, scholarly man who studies and teaches linguistics and social interaction theory. He sometimes visits bars to help dull the tedium, only choosing bars which have a low chance of putting him in social interaction.

Coretti meets a woman in a bar who seems to fit perfectly there. He follows her to various other bars and clubs, watching as she constantly drinks and talks with a companion of hers, her appearance and clothing shifting to let her fit in wherever she goes. [1] His performance at work suffers and his appetite decreases as he devotes all his time and resources to tracking the duo.

Coretti spots the man secreting money from some kind of pocket, and realizes that he's discovered a new kind of creature, one that has adapted to modern society more completely than any cockroach, fueled by the alcohol of a hundred bars. The story closes with Coretti's realization that he is, and finally his transformation into, one of the belonging kind.


  1. ^ Nayar, Pramod (2004). Virtual Worlds. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. pp. 118–119. ISBN 0761932291.  

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