by Bruce Bethke, published by Warner Bros. books, New York, NY. 1995. ISBN: 0-446-67314-5

Headcrash is a modern cyberpunk novel, written like a comedic knockoff of Neuromancer or Snow Crash (Especially Snow Crash, as the main character in Headcrash drives a motorcycle around "cyberspace"). It is written with a very distinct and sarcastic wit, and comes across as somewhat confused in what it's attempting to get across, at least in my opinion.

The main character in Headcrash, one Jack Borroughs (A.K.A. MAX_COOL — No lie), works for the generic, huge multinational corporation that runs everything. One day things don't go so well at work at he ends up canned, after which all sorts of wacky hijinx ensue while he does "Contract" work on the "Information Autobahn". Lots of zany activies in the obligatory cyberpunk total-immersion-internet are abound, including several scenes of almost-getting laid for the character that end up happening once too many, in my taste. The book has a lot of fun to poke at various online cybercultures, as well as large corporations, those who work at them, Unix geeks (The first three chapters are entitied "init", "awk", and "reboot"), and the like. Given that it was copyrighted in 1995, I was impressed with how well Bethke managed to capture some facets of groups that were really in their infancy eight years ago, though I suppose online culture hasn't changed all THAT dramatically since the days of hanging out on IRC and playing DOOM was new.

I was impressed with the fact that Headcrash was the winner of a Philip K. Dick award, though I can't see how it deserves it after reading the book. Head Crash was entertaining to read (I finished its ~380 pages in one sitting), but it's not really anything that I'd call classic cyberpunk literature or anything of the sort. The author tries to poke fun at far too many groups and people for me to really take the book seriously. Some guy at Amazon compares the book to a cyperpunk version of Office Space, which is pretty much how I'd sum up the book. Another gripe is that the book, as best I can tell, just ends very abruptly. There are lots of sequel hooks in the last few pages, and it feels like there desperately needs to be a sequel to wrap it up, but I haven't been able to locate any news of said sequel.

All told, though, if you're looking for a fun read that's new-age-technostuff and not too serious, give Headcrash a look.

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