Copyright 1986 by
I first read this in 1987 and most recently on the 24th June 2006.
In a nightmare near-future world, the virtual reality of the Matrix, the consensual
world the Internet will become, seems to be bleeding through to the real world.
There are strange things afoot, strange beings prowling and the Voodoo lord
Baron Samedi stands at the crossroads.
Turner is a mercenary. His current job is to safely deliver a defector from one
of the major corporations to his new company. To do that he'll lead a team of
soldiers and medics and some very sophisticated hardware.
Bobby and Angela are just two mixed-up kids, ill-used by their parents and ill-prepared
for the world as it really is. Now they're finding out that it's shinier,
harder and tougher than the world they've known.
They're are unlikely to last long without the heavyweight help of Turner and
Turner and Molly, however, have their own life-threatening concerns.
Meanwhile, Marly searches for the box-maker and her own redemption. On the
way finds that the world can be what you make of it, and that the very rich
can make the world exactly whatever they want it to be.
Amazing stuff, and how can this be twenty years old? It's not possible. If
Cyberpunk is twenty years old then Punk music, for example, must be at least
thirty. And that is beyond the bounds of reason.
I was in Bangkok when I first read this. I picked it the book from trusty Asia Books on
Sukhumvit Road and walked (yes dear Reader, walked) the ten minutes to the
Ambassador Hotel to get myself an afternoon coffee and to settle down for a
little reading. Surprising though it may seem to you I almost always walked
there in the heat of the afternoon because in those days, the traffic was
appalling and effectively immobile. There were no double-decked highways,
no LRT riding high along the length of Sukhumvit Road. There were only the
ubiquitous Tuk-Tuks, taxis (no meters in those days, price to be carefully negotiated in
advance), few private cars and fewer motorcycle taxis. There was simply no
air-conditioned way to cover that short distance in less than two hours.
The Ambassador itself had slid seriously downmarket since those days but the
hotel was still known for its several excellent restaurants. I had my first
Japanese food there. I remember starting with a deeply reluctant bite of
tuna sashimi and found it to be fabulously delicious, this new taste just
saturating my mouth. I was amazed that such tastes existed.
And that's pretty much how I felt about reading Gibson - I was amazed at this
new form of SF, cyberpunk and had no idea where it had come from. Yet it was
so obvious in hindsight. And of course, Gibson seemed to know about about this
mysterious country Japan and I still had no idea, but eating the food had
shown me that there was something special just a few thousand miles
further around the globe.
And reading Gibson's enthralling, inspiring novels started me on a greedy feast of
Cyberpunk that lasted through to the end of the millennium.
Loaded on the 15th July 2006.