James's Reviews > Looking Glass

Looking Glass by James R.  Strickland
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's review
Nov 27, 2007

(Review from the author)
it was amazing
Recommended for: Cyberpunk, anime, and science fiction fans. Especially those over 30.

I wrote this one. You should know that up front. Because, like, my name's on the cover and everything. :)

Seriously, though.

When I set out to write Looking Glass, in November of 2004, I was angry. Angry about how the net had evolved, angry about the results of the most recent election, angry about how big corporations were exploiting everything, but especially exploiting DRM to own vast swatches of our culture, and so on. And cyberpunk has always been an angry genre. It's also a genre I'd tried once before, back in 1991, but never gotten very far with.

Since Looking Glass was my National Novel Writing Month project for that year, I cannibalized the world from that 1991 book - a world where petroleum is too valuable to burn, and the resulting energy crisis has forced technology in some very different directions - rolled in the years of net culture I'd absorbed since 1991, as well as the potential long term fallout of what I perceived as a growing lack of social bonds between groups who disagree.

This is the world of Cath Farro. She, in her turn, came out of that same anger, the same frustration with working in high tech, the same sense that once AOL connected itself to the Internet (known as the Endless September), everything got worse. She went through the same paradigm shift I can remember, except that she did it younger, when it was more keenly felt. She's also older - forty - because the kind of skills you need and kind of impacted fury you need in a cyberpunk world are the products of years of experience and study. Making her older meant that I didn't have to make all her opponents intrinsically dumb. It meant that I didn't have to come up with some improbable background to explain why she can do the things she can do and others can't. It also meant that, despite living in a near-future world, she's a product of our time, and the times we live in. Cath would be in her twenties today.

What happens? Well, the nutshell version I give people when they ask goes like this: Catherine Farro is a 40 year old paraplegic. She works in a virtual environment doing network security for a large corporation. On Friday, payday, someone attacks her and her team. The rest of the story is her figuring out what was real and what was virtual (and which parts of those matter), who did it, why they did it, who sent them, and going after them.

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