John Brunner 1968-1975

Half a decade before cyberpunk, Brunner explores the frontiers of science fiction – and the emerging territory of cyberspace – with his The Shockwave Rider (1975). Vernor Vinge follows with his masterly True Names in 1981, and Gibson with  Neuromancer in 1984. This is the chronology of cyberpunk as seen from this side of the ocean.

This is the cover blurb from The Shockwave Rider (vintage 1975): “Nickie Halflinger, the only person to escape from Tarnover – where they raise hyper-intelligent children to maintain the political dominance of the USA in the 21st century – is on the run, dodging from loophole to crevice to crack in the computerised data-net that binds the continent in chains…”

And from Brunner’s prefatory acknowledgement:

“People like me who are concerned to portray in fictional terms aspects of that foreign country, the future, whither we are all willy-nilly being deported, do not make our guesses in a vacuum. We are frequently – and in this case I am specifically – indebted to those who are analysing the limitless possibilities of tomorrow with some more practical aim in view…as for instance the slim yet admirable hope that our children may inherit a world more influenced by imagination and foresight than our own.

The ‘scenario’ (to employ a fashionable cliche) of The Shockwave Rider derives in large part from Alvin Toffler’s stimulating study Future Shock, and in consequence I’m much indebted to him.”

From Brunner: The Shockwave Rider A Methuen paperback 1975.


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