Shockwave Rider By Brunner There are numerous books on the science fiction market, that deal with the myriad of possibilities involving the technology of the future. John Brunners book, “Shockwave Rider,” is one of the most popular, as well as one of the most famous, books dealing with this issue.
Brunner presents many different realities to the reader, and they are all potentially very realistic in terms of the current state of technology. For the most part, Brunner seems to illustrate that technology, as it relates to the world wide datanet, is a good thing. This is not to say that he does not illustrate it as a very negative reality in the world he presents to the reader, but he does indicate that the world wide datanet and technology has great potential to make the world a better place for all concerned.
In Brunners book we have a reality that is incredibly tense, and almost plausible today.The space that the author deals with is filled with endless bits of information (information overload to be more precise), corporate domination, and it appears, just like many science fiction books that deal with the planet earth in the future, everything is known about everyone. there are no secrets from the system. Brunner illustrates this as a reality that is not necessarily very desirable. He plants a character, Nickie Haflinger, onto the scene. As with many books we can look at this character and see the author within.Haflinger is a prodigy whose talents allow him to switch identities with a simple phone call. By the advanced technology and the ingenuity that is completely Haflingers, we see that the author is not one to be content with the realities that may be a possibility in the future of technology.
Brunner clearly illustrates, by the previous description of Haflinger, that technology and the advances within that field, are incredibly beneficial, or they can be. but he is clearly unhappy with the way things have turned out due to the controlling nature of the governments. This is further illustrated in the fact that Brunners hero is a young man who is bent on changing the world.
He struggles to evade the officials and uses all skills available to him, whether inherent skills or technological ones, to the best of his ability, to put an end to the misuse of power that is so much a part of his world which involves the entity of the world wide datanet. Perhaps, one of the most insightful parts of the book comes in the first half, when Haflinger is experiencing flashbacks due to interrogations. It is in these sections that we see the inner mind of Brunner as he deflty illustrates the world and mind of Haflinger.
In this part we see many different ethical arguments arise between Haflinger and his interrogators. Not only does it seem as though Brunner is telling a fascinating story, but that he is attempting to enlighten people about the possibilities that may arise due to the growth of technology. He is clearly illustrating that this reality, although fictional, may well be close at hand. Who knows, but we may be able to access the Internet by telephone in just a few years. There seems to be no stopping this type of technology that is bent on bringing communication, and control along with it, to a level where anyone and everyone can become actively involved.These interrogations approach many difficult and intriguing questions. For example, if all the choices of a race are known, where does the freedom lie? Or if those choices, and their end result, can be easily assumed.
If a society is so intricately interconnected, almost to the point where there is no individuality whatsoever, what happens when one man or woman stands apart from the crowd? We know full well how such individuals have been treated in a society where we claim to embrace the unique and free minded individual. But to envision such an individual in a place and time when nearly everyone was essentially identical, brings the reader to a position where the truth of such a future is quite stifling and evident. Anyone with any sense would not like to exist in such a world. Brunner is clearly indicating that such a world wide datanet would not be desirable at all.
these are very real possibilities and as any good science fiction writer knows, the future is often illustrated as it might be, in an attempt to help eliminate the possibility. The good science fiction writer examines all of the possibilities and often finds the most frightening reality to illustrate. They do this in an attempt to help prevent the reality from occurring. By illustrating what we could be, Brunner is clearly illustrating his notion that such a reality should not be hoped for, but avoided at all cost. By making the reader aware of the possibilities, he is possibly helping to eliminate one of many potential futures.
In all seriousness, how could a writer truly illustrate a world where the rich get richer and more powerful, while the poor must struggle more and more for mere existence? If such a writer were to truly desire such a world they would certainly not employ a character such as Haflinger. Haflinger has the power and the ability to change things. He is in a unique position to alter the future and save many people. If an author was interested in promoting a world such as the one illustrated in Brunners book, he would not have enrolled a man such as Haflinger. Although Brunner is clearly against technology such as the world wide datanet would produce, he is also clearly not against technology.He uses Haflinger to illustrate the good that technology has to offer. Here is a character who is very much a part of the world of technology.
He is so much a part of it, that he has mastered many different aspects about it and by doing so he has enabled himself to change and alter in an attempt to alter the future and the realities that face him. He finds himself in a position that is very threatening to the powers that be, and there is quite likely, no one like him anywhere. He is very much alone in his struggle to change the pattern of events.As mentioned previously, often writers implement a character to be their own voice. If Brunner were for all forms of technology, as the story goes, he would not have implemented Haflinger, the hero who sees beyond the obvious and sees the possibilities that are within his grasp. We live in a world that is vastly different than the one our parents grew up in. We are actively involved with technology every single day and it is almost to the point where we, as human beings in this country, would not know what to do without our cell phones, faxes, computers, computerized cars, ATM machines, and even simple kitchen gadgets such as a coffee maker.
Our parents surely did not have anything remotely similar to these items in their youth. And in light of this, what makes us think that a reality, such as the one portrayed by Brunner, could not be a real possibility.We allow the government, for the most part, to make a great deal of decisions that affect us in many ways. We live in a world that has the ability to clone a human being. And we live in a society that has gone to great lengths to investigate the use of microchips that can be placed under the skin to help locate human beings.
These are realities, and as any good science fiction writer knows, it is important to understand and know what is going on in his or her society and world in general. these are real issues, and as such they further illustrate that Brunners world is not too far fetched.Even if we consider that the story Brunner presents to us is real, and not of the future, we can clearly see that Brunner is not completely happy with the turns that technology has taken. He clearly sees technology as being the savior of our race, if used properly, but he does not endorse the kind of mentality that the powers in the book display. He brings Haflinger in the story to illustrate to us that technology can be our friend and does have the potential to pull us out of some very serious problems, but he also illustrates that the chances we do this are very slim, indeed.
It is much more likely that we will allow our government to take over and control every aspect of our lives and our thoughts. Brunner clearly does not stand for the world he has created, but he does stand for the world that could be.