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Although it's slow (and perhaps a bit confusing) to start, the book quickly hits its pace and continues marching unrelentingly until the end, drawing readers along with it.By the end of the book readers will have a keen sense of, if not the future at least a future, and what the role of both humanity as a whole and the individual as a piece might be in that future.In a world lacking nothing, Brunner laments our lack of purpose; he proposes that Western civilization, while saturated with intelligence, has forsaken actual wisdom, setting the stage for collective psychosis and a depersonalized ruling elite.Prefiguring the online free speech movement, Brunner shows how a technocratic society can use information for good or ill and, moreover, suggests ways individuals can make the future more user-friendly."The Shockwave Rider," lamentably not as well-known as "1984" or "Brave New World," is one of the central social thought experiments of the 20th century -- and an effective rallying call for sanity in a world that, now more than ever, often seems like so much digital putty.As I'm prone to rant from time to time, peak oil, global warming, resource wars and my other topics of interest are all be-devilled by the problem of data quality.
Nickie plans to change the world, if only he can keep from getting caught.But while The Shockwave Rider missed cashing in on the cyberpunk cachet, it nevertheless remains an important work.Brunner's hard-luck, gritty street-kid-cum-data-jockey foreshadowed the dozens of such anti-heroes that would appear in the 1980s.If The Shockwave Rider had been published a decade after its 1975 copyright date, there is no doubt it would have been lumped into that shifting, slippery, semi-solid body of work now called cyberpunk.But since it appeared in a time before the term "cyberpunk" had been coined, this novel was merely seen as a one-off about a future subsumed by data, corporations and the government.
First up, from Mac Tonnies "Utopian / Dystopian book reviews" : John Brunner's "The Shockwave Rider," published in 1976, is a fast-forward glimpse of a 21st century that -- unlike the vast majority of SF written in that distant era -- predicts some of our worst fears and reasons for hope.