Monday, September 30, 2013

Top ten classic bizarro Sci-fi novels #10 Proto-Cyberpunk kicks off the list!

My top ten classic Bizarro Science Fiction novels!

Over the summer I did a ten week countdown of my favorite horror novels of all time. I had fun doing it and seems based on the numbers that a lot of people were were reading them. I enjoyed the discussions and so I decided to do another top down. So here are some rules, one book by each author because in this list it runs the risk of becoming the Philip K.Dick list. The second rule is nothing published in the 21st century. There are great gonzo sci-fi novels released in the last thirteen years for sure, The Skinner by Neal Asher and Dr. Idenity by D.Harlan Wilson are great examples. They are great but we are talking old school now. The more weird the better, they can be serious or totally funny, the most important thing is that they are bizarro and awesome.

This list will have a more structured format. Enjoy.format. Enjoy. Number # 10 is:

Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

Released: 1976

The plot: Uh OK, here goes. This novel takes place in a digital America in the 21st century. There is a place and it is hard to tell if it is real or virtual, probably both called Tarnover. It is there that hyper intelligent children are brought up to hack the Data-net which is the computer system that runs throughout the world.

The main character is Nickie Halflinger who is on the run constantly changing his identity. Eventually he learns there is a resistance movement fighting against Tarnover.

The weirdest aspect: This novel is totally surreal. Not only does this novel take place in a highly surreal cyberspace it is one envisioned by a writer in 1975.

What does it say about our world? The most insane part is how much of the future Brunner nailed. The Data-net in the novel is basically the internet. This novel is very much about a computer virus, infact this book is often given credit for the use of the term worm. In this novel the wonders of a digitally connected world is explored and questioned. Privacy is gone as the Data-net connects the world on-line. In 1976 Brunner suggested the idea that Big Brother wasn't watching, that the citizens were plugging in and giving away all their data to Big Brother willingly. Sound familiar?

With Facebook, Twitter, and the connectedness of the Iphones it is amazing just how much Brunner has to say about today.

Bottom line is it good? Considered one of Brunner's three masterpieces Shockwave Rider is a great proto Cyberpunk novel. It is not light reading. It is so weird and surreal I found the first 2/3 of the book to be a bit of a challenge. The constant changing of the main characters identity and his adventures on the data-stream makes for a very surreal feeling. Not to mention the story is told in non-linear flash backs. I am not the only reader who wondered am I not smart enough to follow this? The last third of the book pays off your patience. There are many pieces of the story that don't seem to make sense that come together perfectly in the final act.

The Author: John Brunner was a British science fiction writer active from the 50's until his death in 1995. He has published MANY novels, ranging from thin cheezy pulp novels to highly regarded classics. Shockwave Rider is one of three novels considered to be his masterpieces. The other two are the epic Stand on Zanibar and the eco-horror classic The Sheep Look Up (8# on my favorite Horror novels list). Both of those are bizarro in their own ways, but his other most weird novel is Crucible of Time. That novel reads like a history text for a very unhuman like species. Very strange book as well.

Honorable mention of the week:

Final Blackout by L.Ron Hubbard

David Agranoff is the author of two published novels the Wuxia Pan style horror fantasy crossover "Hunting The Moon Tribe," and the satire "The Vegan Revolution With Zombies. He is also the author of the Wonderland award short story collection "Screams From a Dying World." His next novel Boot Boys of the Wolf-Reich is due to be released soon by Deadite press.

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