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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.
It's a story as enjoyable and profound today as it was 22 years ago, and it's absolutely a must read for cyberpunk aficionados.
"For all the claims one hears about the liberating impact of the data-net, the truth is that it's wished on most of us a brand-new reason for paranoia." --John Brunner, "The Shockwave Rider", 1975. To Brunner, control is control of information; either digital data or genetic code.
Our resource wars over oil are clouded with endless disinformation and propaganda campaigns, some that have been going on for decades.
Global warming science is also afflicted, with the best source of much of the information (various US government funded institutions) suffering from censorship and political interference, exacerbated by the fossil fuel industry's FUD campaign against the scientists.
It's a tense place filled with information overload and corporate domination, and nearly everything is known about everybody.Brunner identified himself with the political left (including anti-war actions in Britain during the sixties) but when he's read today, his outlook seems so much more concerned with the rights and dignity of the individual, rather than trying to social-engineer whole societies.This spirit is very much the "Internet ethos" we see today. This book has always been popular with the techy-geeky crowd, but, since it was first published in the '70s, it missed out on the cyberpunk revolution of the '80s.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.