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Synners

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,813 ratings  ·  155 reviews
In Synners, the line between technology and humanity is hopelessly slim. A constant stream of new technology spawns crime before it hits the streets; the human mind and the external landscape have fused to the point where any encounter with "reality" is incidental.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published October 2nd 2001 by Thunder's Mouth Press (first published February 1991)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  1,813 ratings  ·  155 reviews


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Bradley
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
Cyberpunk.

Is it all pretty much a mess wrapped up with mirror shades and spinal shunts, hacking and guns?

NOT this one!

Well, it was pretty much a mess of characters and mediots for more than half the novel and I'll be honest, I was rather mystified and wondering where the novel was going or whether it WAS going anywhere. It felt like a random number generator approach to novelization. We had a bunch of friends all interconnected on the media-train in all different positions or outside of the co
...more
Elizabeth
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Slow and difficult to start this is an incredibly complex and clever book that really pays off in the end.

For the first 30% I was mostly baffled, the next 30% was slow but interesting, and the last 40% was just pure OH GOOD GOD THIS IS BATSHIT GENIUS. Hard to believe that this was written 27 years ago about imagined technology rather than as contemporary social commentary because it's SO relevant. It's worth the investment; give it to your brain.
Sylvia Kelso
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Took me three times through to be fairly sure I had all there was in this book, when I first read it back in the early 90s. It's dense. It's cryptic. Its narrative cuts are very, very sharp. It's got its own slang and a heap of expert-IT-argot and it bristles with wicked lines. "If you can't eat it or fuck it and it can't dance, throw it away." - "Ninety percent of life is being there, and the other ten percent is being there on time." And the key-motif, the one the whole book's about: "Change f ...more
Alex Bright
All appropriate technology hurt somebody. A whole lot of somebodies. Nuclear fusion, the fucking Ford assembly line, the fucking airplane. Fire, for Christ's sake. Every technology has its original sin.

Rating: 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Done. Done, done, done, done... DONE.

The ideas were certainly interesting. Hell, the characters were interesting. However, the story could have been told in about half the time. And, most importantly, the presentation could have been done in a way that didn't make
...more
Anthony
There is a great deal to enjoy and admire about this prescient, trippy novel: its energetic, jazzy prose; its efforts to imagine and bring to life virtual reality experiences long before virtual reality experiences were made real (it was published in 1990); and its colorful cast of characters, especially the foul-mouthed, driven, prone-to-fisticuffs Gina. But ultimately it spins its narrative wheels a bit too much over the course of its several hundred pages, and the climax devolves into near-in ...more
Viv JM
DNF @ 116 pages

I gave this a shot but can't muster any enthusiasm to continue. I have no idea what is going on (but nothing about it has inspired me to persevere to discover) there are too many characters to keep track of, and I am finding the writing style jarring. I don't think cyberpunk is my thing.
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a cyberpunk novel with musicians instead of shades-wearing hackers. It was nominated for Nebula in 1991. I read it as a part of Monthly reads in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels for September 2019.

The story follows multiple characters and starts with a twist:
"I'm going to die," said Jones.
The statuesque tattoo artist paused between the lotuses she was applying to the arm of the space case lolling half-conscious in the chair. "What, again?"


The following first third of the book introduces
...more
Kaitlin
This was the pick of the month for the #LadyVaults on #MagicalSpacePussycats and so, naturally, I read it. It was my first foray into Cyberpunk, and it was MiNdBeNdInG! This was written during the early stage of the web, and yet it is jammed full of new ideas, and ideas which really have happened. A story filled with hackers and VR, simulations and big bad corporations...definitely a little scary when compared to our world, but also very imaginative!

One element which I did like about this was th
...more
Alexandra
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011

I'd kinda forgotten how much I love good cyberpunk until I read this. Turns out I really really like it.

Interestingly, in many ways this feels like a prequel to much of the cyberpunk I've read. The main contention is the invention of putting sockets into people's heads to allow them to experience and manipulate the datelines (read: internet) more directly... the result of which, or something similar, is what Gibson and Scott and their friends are basically examining. So from a 'getting started'
...more
Karin
I have often joked at work that I can't wait for the day when I can just plug in and let my company use my brain-power while I entertain myself with a book. It's a fun thought, but Synners explores what that might really be like. What if we could get information out of our heads as easily as thinking? What if we could experience things virtually by inputting sensory information directly into our brains? For Gina, Gabe, and Visual Mark the invention of "sockets" in conjunction with brain mapping ...more
MichaelK
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:

'Fuck it, what difference did one m
...more
Antti Värtö
I really wanted to like the book. The characters were good. Cadigan manages to avoid needless exposition, trusting her readers to puzzle the pieces together. Cadigan could also foresee many of the developments of the Web impressively.

But none of that really compensates for the fact that Synners was so boring. I was reminded a lot of the movie Interstellar: at first the story seemed interesting and had good if not new ideas, but then it gets bogged down and the ending degenerates into a pile of s
...more
Kris
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paul
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I haven't read a ton of old cyberpunk, and what I read of Gibson's work blurred together and I read too long ago to remember decently. After reading this I feel the Wachoskis definitely read this before working on the Matrix. Definitely worth a read for people into this genre.
Alison
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf
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 1991 novel with 2014 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
...more
Simon
In many ways this book simply reinforced my opinion that I don't really like "cyberpunk". Apparently another of the leading beacons of the sub-genre and another that I have broadly not liked.

The story contains an interesting premise and explores what might happen (and go wrong) when the brain and cyberspace become too closely connected. But there were several things about the way this was executed that I didn't like.

For one thing, there was a large number of (not particularly memorable) characte
...more
Adam Whitehead
Dec 03, 2017 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: synners. 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 ...more
Lesley Arrowsmith
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Cyberpunk's not really my thing, but this is an engrossing world, and eventually it makes sense, kind of.... though just about everybody is drugged up to the eyeballs at least some of the time.
Drew Shiel
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This does not read like a book written in the 80s.
Jessica Draper
May 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Pat Cardigan wrote Synners back in 1991, before we’d all visited the Matrix, played with Player1, or frittered away our lives in Better Than Life--basically, before we’d virtually jacked in and absorbed cyberpunk expandio ad absurdum into into our collective (sub/un)conscious. So following Cardigan’s 16-bit version of “The Future Is All in Your Head” feels a lot like reading Dracula and wanting to yell “He’s a vampire, you idiots!” as the Harkers and Van Helsing blinkeredly puzzle over what in t ...more
Paul
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cyberpunk, scifi, fiction
This book definitely made me nostalgic for days of cyberpunk past, but it was really too "Hollywood hacker" for my tastes - computers are basically just magic black boxes with little to no explanation to how they work.

The world that Cadigan paints here feels like a Johnny Mnemonic future, with CRT monitors everywhere and Blade Runner-style aesthetics. She doesn't describe it that way, but it's just the gestalt I experienced when reading it because of the very 90s concerns. In a lot of ways that'
...more
S.J. Higbee
Nov 22, 2016 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. Given that this was written and published back in 1992, before many of our current technological gismos were in current use, Cadigan’s world is eerily prescient. I felt very at home with much of her near-future predictions, which is a tad worrying when considering ...more
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Aug 02, 2016 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 ...more
Jani
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
...more
DiscoSpacePanther
I really wanted to like this book because I enjoy cyberpunk-ish stories. The novel has innovative elements, my favourite being Sam's "potato" powered computer!

I suspect that when it was published most people were unaware that computers could have viruses. (Given that I had an Amiga computer from 1989, I was well aware that viruses could and would infect a disk whenever they could - if only the characters in this story could have slid the write-protect tab to prevent infection).

Overall, I had two
...more
Simon
Jan 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, cyberpunk was a long time ago, wasn’t it? I might have enjoyed this more if I read it back in the early ‘90s straight after devouring William Gibson’s first trilogy, but 30 years have passed and I can really feel it.
But leaving aside the inevitably dated technology and outmoded stylistic choices, I just couldn’t either understand or care what was going on here half the time. Cadigan has a habit of dropping you into a scene without knowing where you are or which character you’re following.
...more
Haley
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Haley by: -
Synners is a whirlwind of stream of consciousness sensory overload and 90s aspirational hacker slang. What it loses to inscrutability it more than makes up for in atmosphere. I'm a sucker for early cyberpunk and am certainly guilty of giddily tweeting out passages about memes or Never Going Off-line but it's okay because this book doesn't take itself too seriously.
In addition to being a fast-paced proto-vaporwave romp, Synners does address some interesting themes about AI, consciousness, and hum
...more
Nicholas Whyte
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2886242.html

I have to admit that cyberpunk has never really been my thing, and I rather bounced off Synners (short for "synthesisers", people who have allowed their brains to be surgically augmented with devices that allow them to interface directly with computers. It was written in 1991 so the tech has dated rather badly; and I found the proliferation of characters and scene setting, and the fact the the plot doesn't really start until half way through, difficult
...more
Jordan
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really sure what to say about this book. Apparently the publishers didn't either because the blurb on the back of my book is incredibly vague. But it's a really fun book. Good cyberpunk. It took me a while to get used to the large cast of characters, especially in the beginning when pretty much every chapter introduces new characters and some of them only ever return in minor roles. But I really liked the number of characters by the end. It made the world feel complete and connected. Also, t ...more
intrepideddie
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cyberpunk
I love a good cyberpunk novel and "Synners" tries hard, but falls short. The problem is, the author spends all her time mimicking other cyberpunk novels rather than doing her own thing. At times it felt like I was reading bad fan fiction for another author.

Another nit to pick was the author's liberal use of references to pop culture from the 80s -- there were way too many 80s colloquialisms, and this really ruined the illusion of the story taking place in a future setting.

I'm a bit surprised tha
...more
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Hugo & Nebula Awa...: September 2019 Synners (No spoilers, please!) 38 26 Dec 05, 2019 03:07AM  
The Sword and Laser: Synners by Pat Cadigan 7 40 Jun 29, 2013 04:46AM  
SF Masterworks Group: Synners, by Pat Cadigan 1 4 May 31, 2013 11:55AM  

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Pat Cadigan is an American-born science fiction author, who broke through as a major writer as part of the cyberpunk movement. Her early novels and stories all shared a common theme, exploring the relationship between the human mind and technology.

Her first novel, Mindplayers, introduced what became a common theme to all her works. Her stories blurred the line between reality and perception by mak
...more

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