Saturday, May 5, 2007
I read an article on Yahoo news the other day that seemed to encapsulate why this novel affected me. The article was about average Japanese clerical workers that cannot afford to rent or buy a place to live in Tokyo. Instead they live a strange existence inside a relatively new phenomenon called cyber-cafes. The cafes provide Internet connections, warmth, showers, all you can drink sodas and coffee, free comic books, and a small booth to sleep in for a small price. These cafes give hard working Japanese a place to shelter until they can afford a place to live (if that ever happens). This is like a page out of William Gibson's breakthrough novel Neuromancer.
So much of what is in this book is relevant today, that it does not seem as alien as it might have to someone reading it in 1984. Not many books keep me thinking about them months after I have read them, but this one has. I was late coming to the so-called Cyber Punk genre, and to be honest, this is the only book in that genre I have read (I tried my hand at Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson after it was recommended to me as another Cyber-Punk novel, and I could scarcely see the similarities). Anyway, this review is beginning to meander, so I will wrap it up. You don't need me to tell you the entire story here like so many long-winded reviewers often do. If you can handle movies like Blade Runner, Donnie Darko, Twelve Monkeys, (I can't think of any books to directly compare it to) then you should like this. Give yourself a chance to get used to the slang used throughout the book. You will get used to it. Once you are past that, it will be like gliding through the cyber-world of Tron.