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First up, from Mac Tonnies "Utopian / Dystopian book reviews" : John Brunner's "The Shockwave Rider," published in 1976, is a fast-forward glimpse of a 21st century that -- unlike the vast majority of SF written in that distant era -- predicts some of our worst fears and reasons for hope.

"The Shockwave Rider" is perhaps best known for its eerily prescient rendering of a government-controlled Internet alive with "tapeworms": Brunner's equivalent to computer viruses.

If The Shockwave Rider had been published a decade after its 1975 copyright date, there is no doubt it would have been lumped into that shifting, slippery, semi-solid body of work now called cyberpunk.

But since it appeared in a time before the term "cyberpunk" had been coined, this novel was merely seen as a one-off about a future subsumed by data, corporations and the government.

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.

Since a friend gave it to me to read many years ago, I've bought every copy of it I could find.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.While it was not a commercial success, it did receive some critical note and it also became an underground hit in the high-tech community then evolving around computers.Historical Note: In the 1980s, researchers at Xerox PARC dubbed the first self-replicating, self-propagating computer program a "worm" after the "tapeworms" Nickie uses to erase his previous identities.

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With its mechanized ambience and hacker protaganist, "The Shockwave Rider" is one of the principal "protocyberpunk" novels, predating Bruce Sterling's "Islands in the Net" by a decade. Beneath the veneer of techno and inventive slang is a challenging utopian discourse as engaging as B. Skinner's "Walden Two."Like "The Sheep Look Up," "The Shockwave Rider" deals unflinchingly with where we're headed as a species -- and how to know when to apply the temporal brakes.

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