Manual Synners (S.F. MASTERWORKS)

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The creation of the world, once catalyzed did not require his intervention, just his participation. After the sockets he stood in his own way when creating things that required his concentration. The sockets demanded that he be the ever-present master of his imaginings.

What is interesting about these characters as a set, especially to the reader who may live to see such technologies, is that they are all middle-aged. They have history and complications that younger characters do not. They remember when virtual reality and brain manipulation technologies were in their infancy and those of their generation that were going to wash out already have. They are survivors who don't spend their day blissed out on their own brain implants or slaves to their datafeeds. The stratification of society into mindless consumers, renegade innovators, ultrapowerful elites, and survivors, is a hallmark of cyberpunk.

In a lot of cyberpunk books, the hero is one of the renegade innovators, i. I thought you looked like you needed, um, change for the machines.

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The man's smile was unexpectedly broad and sunny. How did you know? For example, the phrase "change for the machines" which is echoed throughout the book was first introduced in a scene shortly after Visual Mark's small music video production company was acquired by Diversification Inc, a huge conglomerate. He wanders into an employee meet-and-greet to use the coffee vending machine and after a while of patting himself down Gabe offers him "change for the machines".

Mark immediately latches on to that phrase and has a private epiphany about the nature of humanity as it relates to immersive technology. The reader is privy to the slow unfolding of this epiphany. This isn't the only example of the beauty of Cadigan's writing, but it is the most easily encapsulated. I originally picked up this book because I heard Cadigan speak on a panel at Lonestarcon 3 that year's Worldcon. Now I can't wait to reread Synners and then tear through everything she's published hoping to absorb just a little of the magic into my own writing. I did not get very far with this one.

I found Cadigan's writing extremely irritating. I felt like she was trying too hard to be cool, down with the kids. The story is about tattooed druggie hackers who listen to rock music and go against a big corporate record label, or something. At the start of chapter 2, one character who is of course very cool is in court, wondering whether she will be found guilty of anything and charged.

The speculation concludes with: The fines would clean her out and then some, one more garnishment on her wages, so-fucking-what. All she cared about now was getting back on the street' Later, she wonders what her BFF Mark is doing: She and Mark were in it together, always had been. They'd been in it together in the beginning, and when Galen had bought most of the video-production company out from under the Beater, and they'd been in it together when Galen had let the monster conglomerate take EyeTraxx over from him, and they were supposed to be in it together the day after tomorrow, when they were due to show up for their first full day working for the monster conglomerate.

I gave up at page Whilst this is undeniably cyberpunk and its view of the future is very much one from the early 90s I kept feeling surprisingly nostalgic in the midst of all the horror this is definitely different in tone. Whilst many of the other works of the time are more reminiscent of action movies, full of nudity and violence, this is much more considered and exploratory. It doesn't lack for explosive events but has a strong character focus and solid world building which really marks it out. What if the tech revolution, instead of being made by start-up and college geeks, was driven by MTV-era creatives?

That's essentially Cadigan's premise in this cyberpunk classic. It's impossible, obviously, not to read this novel with eyes, but I suspect that simply enriched the experience particularly as I find cyberpunk mostly irritating as a rule. It's why a lot of this review will focus on the future-vision of Cadigan. Cadigan got some things spot on - the concept not only of buil What if the tech revolution, instead of being made by start-up and college geeks, was driven by MTV-era creatives?

Cadigan got some things spot on - the concept not only of built in traffic-warning GPS stands out, but even more so for the prediction that it would always get you the info just too late to do anything about it. The sense of an ever-connected life - a staple of the genre - seems much less surprising than it did in the s. But the more interesting thing is probably the fundamental differences. Mostly the assumption that what would drive technology was the entertainment industry, people's desire for spectacle that would move them, draw them in, enable them to connect with each other more deeply.

And that this would be fueled by the drug-addled, vision-inspired world of video creation, which end up replacing even "Old Hollywood". Instead, it seems to me, while communication and connection have driven a lot of our technology in the last decade, it has been less immersive forms - text-based communication that doesn't rely on synchronicity to be effective; communication that enables us to chat lightly with a wide range of people - not the kind of tech that lets you get literally into your lovers head.

Similarly, our entertainment industry has gone for more superficiality - cheap swelling-music emotional moments and lots of eye candy explosions - not the kind of dizzying, emotive, complex sequences Cadigan envisages.

Synners (S.F. MASTERWORKS)

I'm not sure what that means about who we've become, but Cadigan's vision gave me a different way of looking at it. Of course, Cadigan wasn't predicting the future, she was writing a novel. And it's a great read. As mentioned above, this isn't my preferred genre, and I'm absolutely not a video music geek either, so I'm a tough audience.

Like a lot of sf, the book asks a lot at the beginning, introducing a large cast with whiplash speed, alongside a new slang dialogue. The ebook would really have benefited from Amazon's x-ray feature, letting you quickly look up characters, but it wasn't set-up. There were slow bits - the video sequences in particular, but mostly it was a pretty simple story well told, and I enjoyed it to the end.

Can't ask more than that. Cosa ti sembra questa —una finestra aperta o una ferita aperta? La differenza tra i du Cosa ti sembra questa —una finestra aperta o una ferita aperta? La differenza tra i due sta soprattutto nel differente mondo che viene evocato: A cominciare dalle relazioni umane, traviate, drogate, rimescolate dall'invenzione degli innesti cerebrali. Nel diverso approccio al problema si nota un'altra importante differenza con Gibson: Dec 03, Adam Whitehead rated it it was amazing.

In the not-too-distant future, the world is a morass of internet-based TV shows and corporate greed. The people best-equipped to survive in this world are those who synthesise content for the net: The arrival of sockets, cybernetic implants which allow people to directly interface with computers through their minds, marks a major change in society and technology, and what it means to be human.

But when something goes wrong, it falls to one group of synners - outcasts, failures and data In the not-too-distant future, the world is a morass of internet-based TV shows and corporate greed. But when something goes wrong, it falls to one group of synners - outcasts, failures and data junkies - to save society, fix the net Originally released in , it was a late-breaking novel in the cyberpunk movement, championed by the likes of Bruce Sterling, William Gibson and Neil Gaiman.

It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and has been enshrined in the Gollancz SF Masterworks range as one of the all-time defining works of science fiction. Synners is interesting for coming towards the end of the cyberpunk movement, at least before subsequent books like Jeff Noon's Vurt and Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon began taking it in very different directions and the movement was subsumed more into science fiction as a whole.

It's also interesting for coming during the earliest days of the internet as we know it, so at least some terminology laptops, email, virtual reality rings true, unlikely earlier cyberpunk whose invented terms now feel very dated. Like most cyberpunk authors Cadigan missed mobile phones, but it oddly doesn't feel as archaic in this book. Cadigan is more interested in how technology and being networked impacts on the human condition and the methodology for accessing the net is less important. It is impressive how many other things she got right: More impressive is how the novel feels like it's subverting cyberpunk itself.

There's nary a mirrorshade or ill-advised superskyscraper in an earthquake zone! But growing corporate power and tech companies acting like they are above the law and pressurising baffled politicians who can't see beyond the next election into giving them carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want without regard for the consequences for society and the economy have never felt more appropriate.

Cadigan's prose mixes poetry with hard-edged science fiction descriptions of hardware and software. They are sequences of people immersing themselves in the net and drugs which come across as lucid fever dreams. The novel also delights in the mundane: There is a frustrated air of rebellion in many characters, who take drugs and listen to loud music but no-one really cares any more, certainly not the government which is now wholly in the pocket of corporate interests. Synners has some sins syns?

The novel is slow to come together, taking a hundred pages to assemble a large cast of viewpoint characters possibly too many; Gina, Gabe, Sam emerge as the main viewpoints and the novel may have benefited from dropping some of the secondary viewpoints. The scattershot opening makes the world feel grounded and realistic, but the lack of focus makes it hard to work out what's going on. But about a quarter of the way into the book starts to coalesce and the last quarter has the pedal fully to the metal as a global crisis erupts and only our "heroes" - the most dysfunctional bunch of hackers and artists you could ever hope to meet - can save the day.

Not the easiest of reads especially at the start but one that more than rewards the effort. Nov 28, Lesley Arrowsmith rated it liked it. Cyberpunk's not really my thing, but this is an engrossing world, and eventually it makes sense, kind of The plot which is extremely complicated is an early exploration of the interface disease trope where computer viruses which pass for AIs are beginning to cause numerous human deaths and to fragment human Identity. Mar 29, Drew Shiel rated it it was amazing.

This does not read like a book written in the 80s. Nov 22, S. Higbee rated it it was amazing. This cyberpunk winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award takes a while to get going as the group of disparate characters are established amongst a tech-heavy world in a near-future where everyone is increasingly reliant on their technology. I felt very at home with much of her near-future predictions, which is a tad worrying when considering This cyberpunk winner of the Arthur C. I felt very at home with much of her near-future predictions, which is a tad worrying when considering how it all ends.

When there is a number of main characters, there are always the one or two who particularly chime — for me, these were Gina, who hooked up with the video star Visual Mark twenty-something years ago and is still drifting in his wake as he becomes increasingly lost to his videos and drug-taking.


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She sings off the page with her cynical, acidic asides and her gritted passion for what she believes in. The other character I really loved is poor old Gabe, the typical artist-turned-corporate-wage-slave, who makes advertisements, while wishing he did almost anything else. To allay his boredom and sense of futility, he regularly escapes into a classic game using a hotsuit to enable him to virtually interact with the two main characters in the game.

This is one of the main attributes of cyberpunk — not only to pull the reader into a high-tech, near-future world, but also into cyberspace where reality exists in the interface between humanity and machines. And the best of this genre takes you there, immersing you into an altered landscape, where memes and symbols take on different meanings that the reader completely accepts. This is why I am prepared to slow down my normal reading rate for this particular genre and pay attention — because the rewards are so very satisfying when it is done well.

Needless to say, the climax is beautifully handled, and the final third of the book was difficult to put down as the plot continues gathering momentum during the ongoing crisis and humanity attempts to fight back. I finally put the book down, aware of coming back to the present from a long way away — always the mark of a master worldbuilder. Aug 02, Allan Dyen-Shapiro rated it it was amazing. As much as I enjoy cyberpunk, I had never read this, one of the classics of the field; I had only read more recent stuff from Cadigan. And in that, she was much more conventional, a single protagonist, well-developed character fiction, to go with the ideas.

Here, what she achieves is a completely immersive experience. Much like William Gibson in the same period, Cadigan chooses third person, limited, multiple POV, with lots and lots of characters given POV time, none more central than the others As much as I enjoy cyberpunk, I had never read this, one of the classics of the field; I had only read more recent stuff from Cadigan. Much like William Gibson in the same period, Cadigan chooses third person, limited, multiple POV, with lots and lots of characters given POV time, none more central than the others.

The characters are unique, cool, and go along being themselves in parallel with the other characters, creating the entire synner subculture. At first through immersive virtual reality in what seems uncannily similar to today's technology, but later in sockets hardwired into their heads, reality is synthesized. The Beater is an ex-rock-and-roller who gave up his musical instrument for the role in creating.

Visual Mark is an artist, almost not a part of the world, until he becomes completely digital when his physical body dies. Gabe, whose mid-life crisis is two female AIs with whom he escapes both his advertising job and his loveless marriage to a woman who will leave him once she gets sufficiently rich from real estate deals. Sam, his daughter, emancipated when she couldn't deal with Gabe's wife either, teenage, living the life of rebellion with an outsider class, but growing closer from a distance to her Dad who is now doing things she considers cool.

Gina, quite violent, who follows Mark into the dangerous world of sockets and videos just to satisfy the adrenaline junky in her. And those are just the protagonists--there are also cool antagonists. Certain phrases, certain images, certain statements form leitmotifs that continue to recur as in a dream. A very enjoyable experience; I recommend this novel highly. A in the late 80's still feels relevant. More relevant than a lot of cyberpunk, even late first wave ones such as this. Pat Cadigan missed the normal technological advancements the genre is known for such as: But reading it doesn't feel archaic though, maybe because it's a hard, purposeful look at nostalgia itself.

It got to the point "Who do you love? It got to the point where the net should have collapsed in chaos, but it didn't. Or rather it did, but the collapse was not a collapse in the conventional sense. Entertainment is imbibed while the bumper-to-bumper traffic takes you hours to get to work. There is porn for everything.

Traffic porn, med porn, war porn, food porn. People get off on most anything that's packaged as entertainment. And the stuff that isn't trending now, is gone. Viruses are prevalent and are just a hazard of the world; most people don't know how to get rid of them. Discarding technical know-how for the ease of products automating their lives.

That's where the punks come in, the hackers. Eat it or throw it away. Most of the pages are reserved for introductions to each. Though effective in the long term, it does take a while to get into it. But once it's done showing you the characters and by proxy, the world—the book is undeniably richer for it. Where Synners is so interesting compared to some other first wave novels beyond the world building aspects is that there is kind of a post-cyberpunk vibe happening throughout, intentional or otherwise.

Synners by Cadigan, Pat

We just keep rockin' on. This lauding of a wave that died out, along with the notion that "punk" is also dead is a consistent through line, reinforced with vivid imagery of music videos and lyrics from songs that just won't leave her alone. She is stuck in a self destructive loop that is explained by the impulses of the human body, rooting her problems in her humanity. Her pain seems to stem from her embodiment, yet she still wouldn't change a thing.

Hard life, hard love, hard everything. If you'd leaned down then, put your mouth on his, he might have stayed. Because after that nothing could pull him back, not love, not sex, not you. Not nothing, not no-how. Once a close couple, madly in love, eating each other up—now mature and unable to carry on with their relationship; effectively due to the past. Their mistakes, their nostalgia for them, and the various forms of coping so they don't ever have to deal with it, all damning of the societal structures in place.

Mark unwilling to take true responsibility for them, instead shrugging them off to the system. Diversifications, a megacorporation disseminates this new and unsafe tech to the masses. And while Gina hungers for the same power to make music videos "alive" again through the use of this technology, possibly rekindling everyone's love for rock'n'roll again, as well as Mark's own love for her. Mark allows it to consume him whole.

Through the eyes of many of the characters we see what capitalism has wrought. Only this time it's through this more interesting lens rooted in music; quizzically, not punk. The idea that the first wave was almost gone and along with it, cyberpunk as a subgenre, parallels Gina and Mark's struggle with their past and glory days. How enticing our memories make events that were actually horrible; allowing us to view the wreckage of our lives with rose-coloured glasses.

Post-cyberpunk in that it seems to critically evaluate the genre, subverting it in a few places. It ain't been rock'n'roll for a long fucking time. This is business, and money, and change for the machines, but it ain't rock'n'roll. Mark himself could represent the genre as it existed in first wave. He is an anti-hero, unlikeable but attractive in non-conformative ways. His past has destroyed parts of him, including some brain damage that makes him even better at using tech to become more than he is now, transcending himself.

Leaving "the meat," as he so often refers to it, behind. He has a particular affinity and knack for something because society has fucked him up; the "system" has damaged him. The typical protagonist for early cyberpunk. I'm maintaining it, but there's nobody home. I know it doesn't happen that way for you, but that's how it is for me. She is more-or-less "well adjusted" and chooses to be a voice of dissent.

Picking physical conflicts and verbal ones, choosing embodiment every step of the way. How she interacts with people, especially if they are seen by her as being a part of the system that has essentially destroyed the love of her life, Visual Mark, is by being angry. She is a part of an older generation, now been left behind. She's angry, and tired, and does exactly what she wants when she wants to. The only weakness she has is Mark, the personification of this old way of life that she cannot let go. The wound in her mouth that would heal; if she'd only stop tonguing it.

The book is primarily as I see it about examining embodiment; the products of our society and commodification of anything of value. Who power structures benefit and what those wounds might look like in a cyberpunk future becoming an allegory for the targeting of the unlucky few, who grow to be far too many.

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How powerful nostalgia is, a resurgence of it being inevitable, often; usually by means of any advancement in technologies. It's smart, funny, at times; easy to empathize with, and features good prose mixed with a cyberpunk aesthetic that feels like a prequel while being critical of the genre as it was about to "die.

Synners is a wonderfully ambitious novel that reinvented the young yet already torpid genre of cyberpunk. While the ideas about the future of computer use and hacking have not quite come through, the characters and mostly engaging writing keep the novel readable twenty odd years after its release. Cadigan's follows a group of people whose lives are tied to computers and computer-based entertainment industry in future California. Whether corporate lackeys, visionaries, or hackers the characters' Synners is a wonderfully ambitious novel that reinvented the young yet already torpid genre of cyberpunk.


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Whether corporate lackeys, visionaries, or hackers the characters' lives intersect at a moment when technology is about to takes its next big step. Whether this results in a brave new world or worse is partly in their hands. Synners is full of ideas of which some seem plausible even today, which is quite an achievement considering how fast the technology has evolved during the last 24 years or so since it was released.

Of course, now one could foresee the burst of internet nor the technological addiction that has spread through the Western society in the last 10 years, but Cadigan did a decent job with her debut. Of course, not all works and Cadigan's ambition also shines in her language, which takes the certain "don't give a damn" -attitude of cyberpunk, the punk in it, to another level with its refusal to help the reader along too much. On the other hand, Cadigan is not foolish enough unlike some cyberpunk authors to forget about the humanity or characters while depicting the dystopic potentials of the future.

The people, even in their addictions and personal nihilisms, are still human beings all the same, which gives access to the novel. Retrieved from " https: Lists of books Science fiction book series Science fiction lists. Archived copy as title Webarchive template wayback links. Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 15 December , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

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