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CYPULCHRE is a dark and twisted cyberpunk thriller that will take readers on a journey through revolt and redemption, high-tech nightmares and low-life dreams.

The inventor of the CLOUD technology—that's swept Los Angeles' rich and willing into the noosphere—has lived in exile for a decade, north of the mountains, feared, defamed, and despised by his former colleagues and estranged family. When he learns that the same technology that led to his downfall now threatens his family as well as the thousands synchronized to it, he must take action. Nothing is what it seems, especially with his psychoses turning allies to enemies, and enemies into demons.

317 pages, Paperback

First published July 14, 2014

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Joseph MacKinnon

7 books20 followers

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5 stars
20 (31%)
4 stars
23 (35%)
3 stars
8 (12%)
2 stars
8 (12%)
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5 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
42 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2017
This is one of the worst books I have read in recent years. I only finished it because I was in awe at just how incredibly, defiantly, boldly atrocious it was.

If you fed an AI a whole bunch of boilerplate cyberpunk novels full of all the cliches and tropes and had it produce a cyberpunk novel of its own, and then took THAT book and gave it to another AI to make yet another boiled down collection of tropes and stereotypes then this is the book that you would have.

The following checklist is not even close to complete, but it will give you an idea of how astoundingly derivative and unoriginal this book is:

Cyberspace with pyramids of data in it
Stims and other drugs liberally taken
Flying cars
People suddenly speaking Japanese for no reason
Cyborg enhancements
Bad ass priest
Aging scientist protagonist suddenly becomes action hero
Lots of alcohol and cannabis
Street punk who is super tough but has a heart of gold
Gazing out over the city at night
Protagonist has estranged wife and two daughters
Evil corporation
Bad ass, hot Japanese woman who loves protagonist
Mind experiments on animals and humans
Dangerous riff-raff living in a Tenderloin type no-go zone
Ironic juxtaposition of corporate ads alongside real-life squalor
Massive anomaly online that threatens to destroy/take over the world
An artificially-prolonged aged evil man living at the top of a high-tech pyramid
Background of future wars that have split America
No more animals because pollution

It's like the writer read Neuromancer and just decided to write his own crap version. There is literally a big grizzled bartender with cyborg-type augmentation who knows the protagonist. I'm amazed that at some point the sky wasn't tuned to the color of a dead cinema screen or something. Sheez.

And I haven't even mentioned the writing yet! Reading this book is like being deprived of your senses. You will have no idea what is actually happening for long periods. People just pop out of doors that you had no idea they were walking towards, or are suddenly talking to someone even though they were just alone.

There are these weird "thoughts aloud in italics" at the end of most paragraphs that are just laughable. Like, we're supposed to think that this guy just reflected on his past career while he's fighting his way up a tower full of cyborgs. Yeah.

The characters have no consistent voices, and all of them swing wildly between street-smart thuggish cool and learned intellectualism at the drop of a hat.

The word "taught" is used repeatedly instead of "taut". Who the fuck edited and proofread this piece of shit?!

At one point, in a scene meant to be gut-wrenching and full of wistful sadness, the estranged wife is revealed to have a "bodacious" figure. I shit thee not. I laughed out loud. Thanks Joseph!


There is SO much to say about this waste of bytes and paper. No tension. No character development. Almost no stakes. No arcs. People do things and say things and go places for reasons. It's all a mystery to us, the readers, and never makes sense.

It's ludicrous. If you decide to read this, read it just as a lesson in how not to write, or how to really lend the word "generic" new meaning and new depth it has never had before.

Even if you are heavily into the genre, this book will spoil your day and put you in a hell of a mood if you actually try to take it on its own terms. Read it for the shits and giggles, if you can find it for free, and then share the horror and the joy with other people who care about books.

A debacle of towering proportions.
October 21, 2014
"The soul is indestructible, but so is the animal itself..." reads the quote from Gottfried Leibniz on the page preceding Joseph MacKinnon's Cypulchre, "...even though its mechanism often perishes in part, and casts off or puts on its organic coverings."

The souls that exist in Cypulchre serve in a distopian future where technological advancement has transformed into an unstoppable psychological force of malicious intent: The Cloud. The organic vessel understood as the human body is transformed into an omni-digital shell of consciousness where it exist in digital paradise. Paul Sheffield, the scientist/divorcee/hacker/sharp-shooter, is the vessel of consciousness the reader follows through every discovery, betrayal, confrontation, and covert foray into alternate realities. MacKinnon guides the reader through the unknown with haunting descriptions, trustworthy explanations, and characters with whom both sympathy and opposition are taken.

Cypulchre is a science fiction thriller with intellectual backbone. Fans of William Gibson and Phillip K. Dick would be at a loss if they were to miss this gem of a novel, written by a promising writer early in what is sure to be a long and successful career. This novel is recommended for fans of the films Blade Runner, The Matrix, Solaris (1972), Minority Report to name a few.
October 31, 2014
I received a copy of Cypulchre by Joe MacKinnon, by Guy Fawkes publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Cyberpunk dystopian

“If you can’t kill the dreamer, kill the dream.”

What’s it about: Paul, an exiled, schizophrenic, neuroscientist hacker who invented the CLOUD, a virtual reality internet-like thing that is difficult to explain but is totally bad and has allowed the Outland Corporation to basically control everyone and everything, teams up with some rebels to destroy his creation and save his estranged family (and the rest of humanity).

What I thought: I really liked it. It’s got everything from CLOUD addicts and mad-max-esque gangs to tech geniuses and gun-toting men of the cloth, from android strippers, to bionic samurai and even giant insectine war-robots. How can that not be awesome?
Paul is an interesting character. Although I didn’t exactly buy his schizophrenia, he was definitely unhinged, and his actions constantly surprised me, and not always in a good way. I would have liked to see a lot more of the other characters though, as well as more of the CLOUD and the world in general. I think it could have been more thoroughly explored.
I also really enjoyed the writing style. I liked the way the author used words to describe things that were sort of technically incorrect, but really gave you a perfect sense of what was being conveyed. I found it to be quite unique and felt that it suited the book perfectly.
Overall, I enjoyed this a lot, and it definitely makes me want to read more cyberpunk.

I rate it 3.5 giant robot insects.

Note: There’s a glossary at the back. You might want to use it.
Profile Image for Fiannawolf.
414 reviews13 followers
February 21, 2015
This is one of those novels that required me to do a repeat reading. The narrative can be surreal at times but honestly I loved the ideas presented here. Maybe it was meant to be somewhat dream-like b/c of our protagonist,Doctor Sheffield, being mentally unhinged to various levels. Will definitely keep MacKinnon on my radar for further books.

If there was a recipe for this book I would label it as such:

1 Part Matrix
2 Parts Vanilla Sky (which did require me to watch at least twice to understand what was going on!)
A dash of Bladerunner!

Mix thoroughly and you get this book! I'd say read the sample and see if the narrative style piques your interest.

Profile Image for Samantha Dragon.
84 reviews40 followers
June 24, 2015
I won this book on first-reads and I really liked it. Its nice to read a book that's about love for your children instead of romantic love. The only problem I had with it is that it went a little too fast in the beginning and I got kind of lost. I also didn't realize that it had a glossary until I was done with it and that could have really helped me while I was reading it.
1 review
August 10, 2014
An thoroughly engrossing novel. There's an intellectual and dramatic revelation nearly every chapter. As the world descends deeper into its techno-lust we need more books like this to show us what we could become if we're not careful.
Profile Image for Fraser Simons.
Author 9 books235 followers
February 14, 2017
It definitely reminded me of Neuromancer. It uses a lot of new terminology (and thankfully has an index at the end of the book), it often describes technology with organic terms and vice versa. It's written as though it's keeping in mind it could be a screenplay to an action movie but isn't dumbed down. I was not into the fact that the main character was schizophrenic, even though it's a pretty big (old) cyberpunk trope. And I lean more towards post-cyberpunk tropes and themes. I don't know how accurate that depiction is but it felt like it was only invoked when the imagery was cool.

Paul Sheffield, The inventor of the CLOUD technology—that's swept Los Angeles' rich and willing into the noosphere—has lived in exile for a decade, north of the mountains, feared, defamed, and despised by his former colleagues and estranged family. When he learns that the same technology that led to his downfall now threatens his family as well as the thousands synchronized to it, he must take action. Nothing is what it seems, especially with his psychoses turning allies to enemies, and enemies into demons.

I found it well written and a fun ride, with some commentary on humanity integrating into the CLOUD and extrapolating a few other technologies being hinted at these days. Intuiting instructions to our devices (which I imagined to be something like Minority Report tech), western culture's addiction to medication. Lots of stuff.

"He is an electric ghost painted in the colours of a dead moment.”

It does still play out like an action movie though, with the ending telegraphed from the very beginning, which isn't unenjoyable but I was hoping for a bit more out a twist. There's some good quotes, everything is in line with the themes. It's not bad, I would have given it 4 stars... but the constant switching between 2nd and 3rd perspectives makes for a lot of Paul does, and Paul sees, and Paul Paul Paul. It did grate on me at some points while being seamless in others.

“These vertical suburbs--jet black glass structures in matte-grey iron and titanium corsets.--boast their own mayors and their own municipal services. They flicker with illegally-rerouted power and pirated water--pumped up external piping from the Toronto Syndicate's aquifers in San Jaquin.”
58 reviews
March 6, 2015
Having learned about this book on Tumblr, and been awaiting it's release, I was very excited to get my hands on it. The book uses a multi-act structure, and all acts, save the last one, are quite good. The dramatis personae are well described and evolved. The author does get a bit wordy, at times. Where fewer and perhaps simpler words would have sufficed, the author pulls out the thesaurus and goes to town. It's not bad, per se, but it doesn't feel like there's a reason to use stranger words than required.
Finally, we get to the last act. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the book reaches a point or urgency, where time really is of the essence. At this point, instead of carrying on with the mission, the main character seems to drop acid and go on a fancy dress party in his mind. This totally breaks the immersion. This is also where the words get even bigger than they need to be. The grand reveal at the end is rewarding, once we get through the psychedelic excursion, however the end was not good at all. The end comes much too abruptly, and with no real explanation of what has happened. We assume that the main character has been successful (it's not a tragedy, after all), but we don't actually know this. It's almost as it the author was facing a deadline, and when it came up simply went "alright, time's up! Time to put my pen down and walk away"...
February 8, 2017
Hard to stay with it, the writer tries to go Shakespeare on every group of words. Good ideas, interesting plot.
Profile Image for Lance Nichols.
37 reviews3 followers
February 17, 2019
The start of this throws far too many events together with far to much invented jargon in what I felt was an unrealistic set of circumstances. Two leading AI/cybernetic researchers running unsanctioned experiments at the same time, and in the same organization with out knowing they were planning this?

Add in they seemed to be “inventing” technology that already existed in world. The world building was too short, and too abrupt. I could not sink myself into the book. I’m moving it to my DNF list and may return to it later. It got good reviews, but I’m not feeling it.
Profile Image for Brainycat.
157 reviews65 followers
January 27, 2015
Brainycat's 5 "B"s :
blood: [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]
boobs: [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]
bombs: [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]
bondage: [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]
blasphemy: [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]
Stars : 1
Bechdel Test : [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]
Deggan's Rule : [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]
Gay Bechdel Test : [UNSCORED, DNF AT 10%]

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.

The First Rule of Cyberpunk is:
You do not make asides to define your new terms
The Second Rule of Cyberpunk is:
You do not make asides to define your new terms
The Third Rule of Cyberpunk is:
If this is the near dark future, it had damn well better make sense

One of my long standing policies is that I will get through 10% of a book before I declare it DNF. It was difficult getting through this ten percent. Not because of typos, but because the writing was so bad. It felt like someone took a standard format script and removed the "character" column from the left side, leaving only lines of dialogue and stage directions floating around on the page unanchored by context. A number of characters were introduced - with some sort of physical attribute to differentiate them - and afterwords they were only ever referenced through dialogue. I had no idea who was saying what to whom. I've never tried to hide the fact that I'm not a very sophisticated reader, but I'm still smarter than the average bear and I've been reading since I was a wee lad. I feel very confident saying that my reading skills are not the weak link in this particular chain.

Secondly, the scenario made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Apparently, it's late Friday night and the most important experiment in the history of a multinational biomedical corporation gets started. RRrrriiiiigggghhht... Ever better, not just one, but two leading researchers independently and without each others knowledge each kick off a major procedure? WTF? How were these doctors able to staff both the surgeries in the same clinic at the same time without knowing about each other? This scenario makes no sense whatsoever. I can't imagine a management or fiduciary policy where running a lab in this manner seems plausible.

We're not even going to get into the nature of the procedure and why it doesn't even stand up to scrutiny under it's own logic. Nor will we get into the unnecessary and sometimes inappropriate use of Technological Terms. I will say that taking time out of the story (via footnotes!) to define and explain technological terms, rather than just showing the characters using the technology and trusting us to figure it out, feels like a slap in the face. Coupled with the pacing and characterization issues, this points to the dire need for some professional editing and a few more rewrites. I didn't see any new ideas in the few pages I read, but I did see a nonstop litany of amateurish mistakes.
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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