Wednesday, July 03, 2013
14. The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner
The main character is a genius who escaped from an elite university and now switches from life to life by changing his identity number. He lives in a state of fear, constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities that he fears are searching for him. This part of the book is quite cool. It is interspersed with future scenes of him being interrogated, which lets the reader know that he does indeed get caught. The narrative gets going when he takes the role of a corporate analyst and meets the free-spirited daughter of one of his colleagues. She guesses that he is not who he says he is and this is the catalyst that sets the two of them on the run.
It sounds pretty straightforward, but there are too many socio-philosophical digressions. Much of their discussion is based on concepts put forth in the book which aren't well-grounded enough in the actual story, so you kind of don't really care. You can read the political subtext in it as well, but it's Brunner extrapolating what a post-Nixonian world would look like 50 years from when he wrote it. It all gets a bit obscure. Then in the last third of the book, the scope suddenly becomes quite massive, with the hero basically taking down the entire system. It just didn't hold together well for me.
So an interesting book with some neat concepts, but not a great story. Anyone have a better Brunner book to recommend?