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The Shockwave Rider

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,582 ratings  ·  196 reviews
One man has made it his mission to liberate the mental prisoners. to restore their freedom in a world run mad.

Nickie Halflinger, the only person to escape from Tarnover- where they raise hyper-intelligent children to maintain the political dominance of the USA in the 21st century – is on the run, dodging from loophole to crevice to crack in the computerised data-net that b
Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by Del Rey (first published 1975)
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Ingo Keck I can not really answer that question but would like to point out that both books complement each other if the reader wants to understand the Cyberpun…moreI can not really answer that question but would like to point out that both books complement each other if the reader wants to understand the Cyberpunk culture. I think it was either Wau Holland or Peter Glaser who said/wrote that The Shockwave Rider describes the Utopia of Cyberpunk society while Neuromancer describes the Dystopia that we are going to have.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biopunk, social-sf
TSR is not a plot book, and it is also not a character book, but it IS an idea book. Brunner was ahead of the curve (or the shockwave) on so many things, and managed to write about the modern Internet in 1975, anticipating terms like 'bandwidth' and 'computer worm'. This is great social SF.
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This book starts out a little rocky and disjointed (possibly an intentional style by the author to match with the subject material), then pulls together and ultimately soars by the last third. Written in 1975, much of the technology forecast in this book is amazingly prescient, especially that relating to the Internet ("datanet"). I'm not usually a fan of the elliptical writing and shallow characterization typical of older sci-fi, and I'm not a huge fan of puns (wordplay is used liberally throug ...more

Three and a half stars, rounded up.

This is an unusual book, one without a plot exactly, and which ends with a question for the reader rather than an actual conclusion. But considering that it was published in 1975, it felt less outdated in its prediction of a wired future than one would have thought when I read it in 2004 or thereabouts.
Tony Daniel
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Prescient proto-cyberpunk classic. Highly influenced by Alvin Toffler's Futureshock, down to having a Toffler-like philosopher quoted in the book and a Toffler blurb on the back. Used the idea of the computer worm and virus (called a phage in the book) for maybe the first time in sci-fi. Eventually devolves into a 70s aging hippie luddite critique of of technological advancement, completely failing to foresee the individual, antitotalitarian empowerment the information revolution brought about. ...more
A proto-cyberpunk text by Brunner that I didn’t warm to that much but fairs alright in hindsight(and as a piece with quartet, sometimes refered to as his "American Quartet".), the images aren't as vivid and the plot is more opaque. Some interesting moments with an ending somewhat echoing Bester’s Tiger! Tiger! (Fine, Stars my Destination, blah!) Interesting book (especially the thoughts on identity which seem very prophetic for the identity theft age) some elements seem to have been better handl ...more
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, 1paper, 2fiction
I think the futuristic lingo is a little over done - makes it a bit more difficult to read than it has to be - he is painting a very scary look at a future that is now here in very many ways. This is pretty remarkable when the main thrust is a computerized society that was only beginning in 1975 & the Internet was a twinkling in ARPANet's juvenile eye. Well worth reading. ...more
Brian Clegg
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've recently re-read one of my favourite SF novels from the 1970s, John Brunner's The Shockwave Rider, and it has more than lived up to expectations.

Okay, like any book using future technology it gets some things wrong. Its early 21st century tech is mostly too advanced (but then they still use tapes to store information). However, this book absolutely sizzles with ideas, some taken from Alvin Toffler's far effective readable futurology book, Future Shock.

Just one example - the protagonist is i
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Shockwave Rider is a book before its time, published in 1975, the book provides a vision for the future of computer networks today. The term 'Web' was used in this book years before the Web as we know it emerged. A riveting story of freeman vs Big Brother society which contains the classic values of privacy still being debated vigorously today. Computer worms and self replicating code - all the cyber components.

The increasing rate of change has sent most Americans into mental distress. Every
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When this book came out in the mid-1970's I was a computer/ theater geek college student. The ideas presented by John Brunner predicted the internet, computer viruses, government experiments worse than "Men Who Thought at Goats."
I was fascinated. I had never read anything like it.
Reading it 45 years on I cannot believe how much he got right. This story could still be part of our future.

And, on a side note, I would love to meet the person in Wisconsin who named a haflinger horse Nickie. At lea
Rowena Vaughan
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When you consider that this book was written in 1974 (or before) it is remarkably prescient in subject and anticipation of the internet and the concept of computers being omnipresence in our current lives. The sub story is interesting but not as interesting as Mr Brunner's ability to conceptualize our current lives. I really enjoyed this book and have read many of his other novels which I also enjoyed.
The Shockwave Rider is the final installment in John Brunner's Club of Rome Quartet, and in many ways the most prescient of the lot. Previously, Stand on Zanzibar drew from Paul Ehrlich to deal with over-population, The Sheep Look Up covered Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and ecological breakdown, and (less successfully) The Jagged Orbit covered racial tensions and the medicalisation of everyday life by 'Big Pharma.' The Shockwave Rider imagines a future that must have seemed a little... if no ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shockwave Rider
John Brunner

“It’s not because my mind in made up that I don’t want you to confuse me with any more facts. It’s because my mind isn’t made up. I already have more facts than I can cope with. So SHUT UP, do you hear me? SHUT UP!”

Facts, facts, facts… Fact checking, alternate facts… From factum meaning real events. But whose reality are we talking about? We have access to so much information in the digital age, it really is staggering. For someone from 1975, the year Brunner published
Marcus Wilson
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm writing this review on a smart phone, connected to the world wide web, and it will be seen by potentially thousands of people around the world, yet I am sat on a train in Birmingham, England. Later I will browse Facebook or YouTube, and advertisers will target me based on data they have detected from the web sites I have visited. This is the world we live in, the world envisaged by John Brunner in 1975, and that core idea is what makes this science fiction novel so very chilling. The minds o ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I could really get into the (pre) cyberpunk aspects of this, yet the plot and character development are not strong points. I'm giving this 3 stars because of the issues it foreshadowed back in the hey day of 1975 that are super relevant today, all implications of humanity barreling into the information age. These include the struggle for personal privacy, cyber warfare & hacking, the widening disparity between the haves and the have-nots, and the blowback and damage to society from the ever acce ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Parts of this book felt to me like some of those crazy comic books I read back in the 80s, where in an economically and ecologically broken USA, Trump was president and the government watched its citizens through video-cameras in the streets, while the TV was full of violent shit and people was mesmerized by all sort of screens.

Back then, it didn't feel like a real future, though...

Good anticipation book, full of stuff that made me think about our day and age's society.
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great book about hacking, megacorps, evil government, and revolution through information... from 1975. It will sound terribly dated and so suprisingly damn relevant - trust me.
Martin Rundkvist
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Loads of speechy dialogue overwhelm the genuinely innovative proto-cyberpunk ideas. Reminded me of Gilliam's movie Brazil.
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
It totes has a plot, it just kinda fizzles out in the end. I wouldn't recommend it and it is especially slow in the beginning.
May 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 1970s
The Shockwave Rider is considered a classic in the sci-fi genre. It's a story full of ideas, many before it's time.

Plot Summary
Nickie Halflinger has lived many "lives." He was raised alongside other extremely intelligent children at Tarnover. Instead of living the life they intended for him, in which he is supposed to help control the populace, he escapes, and is constantly changing his identity. Much of his success is because he can "hack" into the data-net and infiltrate it with "worms" to co
Harrison Phinney
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! First Brunner I’ve read but I must immediately rate him on the genius scale along with my favorite, PKD. The politics here are surprisingly laudable, even now in 2019. His powers of prophecy are startling, too. Personally, unlike others, I found this book arresting from page one, with the middle section actually being my favorite. I admire authors who don’t baby the audience, watering down their vision or narrative. Brunner tosses us right in and expects us to catch up quickly. Those who do ...more
Micah Horton hallett
Fun and frolicsome cyberpunk with an optimistic edge. Solidly written, with characters that grow on you even if they aren't immediately engaging. The Shockwave rider was thought provoking, currently terrifyingly relevant, and with a page count that doesn't outlive the narrative. Good stuff.
I think I just don't like "philosophical novels."

People laud "The Shockwave Rider" for predicting stuff like the Internet. Well, it was written in '75, and communications networks were out there. Brunner's continental network is more like Ma Bell than the World Wide Web. Nothing really caught me as a gee-whiz prediction.

The ethos of the story, on the other hand, is like a hippie version of Atlas Shrugged. Again, this was written in the Seventies, in the immediate aftermath of Watergate and Vietn
John Defrog
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I’ve never read John Brunner before, and I confess the main motivation for starting here is the fact that this 1975 novel – in which Nickie Haflinger, an escapee from the mysterious Tarnover facility, uses a stolen code to hack computers and forge new IDs for himself to evade capture – is generally cited as an ancestor of the cyberpunk genre because it was one of the first SF novels to feature computer networks and hacking as a central concept. Obviously it’s hard to read this without comparing ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colin MacDonald
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Re-read on 2016-07-10.

For a book written 40+ years ago (1975), this holds up surprisingly well. It doesn't say precisely when it's set, but it's around now - after 2010 and before 2025. It gets a bunch of stuff wrong, but it's eerily on-target in a lot of ways. It was written when the Internet was still just a research project, but envisions it pretty well as we know it - its role in our lives, if not the technical details. One of the big themes is government surveillance of internet traffic. Th
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ralph McEwen
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
The book written in 1975 uses technological terms (IE: bandwidth) with a foresight unlike any before it. It's a up dated version of other "Big Brother" type stories but very readable.
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Could never finish it!
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I fought my way through half of it but that was enough. The 70's were a weird time and their sci-fi reflects that
Rob Hopwood
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

This highly prescient novel by the British author John Brunner was published in 1975. Although by this time computer viruses were becoming a reality, I think that Brunner may have been the first to show the amount of disruption that a skilled hacker might achieve. He may also have been the one who coined the term "worm" to describe a malicious program infecting a network.

Some reviewers have not found the plot and the characterizations found in this book to be
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John Brunner was born in Preston Crowmarsh, near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, and went to school at St Andrew's Prep School, Pangbourne, then to Cheltenham College. He wrote his first novel, Galactic Storm, at 17, and published it under the pen-name Gill Hunt, but he did not start writing full-time until 1958. He served as an officer in the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, and married Marjorie Ro ...more

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