Saturday, 26 August 2017

Involution Ocean & Neuromancer Cyberpunk Novels

Last week we reached the Cyberpunk era in the history of science fiction, the reaction to the New Wave rosy future. Two of the key novels in Cyberpunk were Bruce Sterling’s first novel Involution Ocean, and William Gibson’s first novel Neuromancer.

Involution Ocean

Involution Ocean

Published in 1977, Involution Ocean features the world Nullaqua where all the atmosphere is contained in a single, seventy-miles-deep crater. The story concerns a ship sailing on the ocean of dust at the bottom, which hunts creatures called dustwhales that live beneath the surface. It is partially a science-fictional pastiche of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

The powerful narcotic syncophine, commonly known as Flare, comes from only one source: the oil of the gargantuan whale-like beasts that swim the dust sea of Nullaqua. It was John Newhouse’s addiction to the substance that made him a dealer and forced him to move to this airless, inhospitable planet. But when the all-powerful galactic Confederacy declares Flare illegal, the needs of Newhouse and his clientele leave the desperate off-worlder no choice but to sign on as an able seaman aboard a dustwhaler and hunt the giant creatures himself. Joining a crew of junkies and misfits, including a mad captain with his own dark and secret agenda and a bewitching, batlike alien woman who is pained by human touch, Newhouse sets out across the silica ocean at the bottom of the crater in search of release and redemption . . . and sails toward a fateful confrontation between man and beast that could lead to catastrophe.



This 1984 science fiction novel is one of the best-known works in the cyberpunk genre and the first novel to win the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. It was Gibson's debut novel and the beginning of the Sprawl trilogy. The novel tells the story of a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack.The plan is to merge two AIs to create a super-AI, but the Turing Law Code governing AIs bans the construction of such entities; to get around this, it had to be built as two separate AIs. One is called Wintermute (housed in a computer mainframe in Berne, Switzerland) and was programmed by the wealthy Tessier-Ashpool family with a need to merge with its other half, Neuromancer (whose physical mainframe is installed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). The novel concerns the difficulties in hacking from one to the other while trying to evade the authorities, and the unexpected results.

[adapted from Wikipedia and Amazon]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

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