Themes

Corporate Culture and Its Failings

In the novel, Cline highlights corporate corruption through the actions of his antagonist, Nolan Sorrento, IOI's Head of Operations. While Halliday was alive, IOI consistently attempted hostile takeovers of GSS (Gregarious Simulation Systems), the company founded by Halliday and Morrow. After Halliday's death, Sorrento hires 5,000 Sixer troops to make up IOI's Oology Division. Unlike average gunters, these troops are subsidized by IOI and have the company's vast resources at their disposal.

Throughout the novel, Sorrento's actions demonstrate that he is willing to resort to underhanded tactics to further his corporate goals. In Wade's dystopian world, powerful corporations like IOI preside over the livelihoods and happiness of millions. This corporate-fueled dystopia is a familiar setting in the cyberpunk genre of science fiction, of which Cline's novel is an example. Cyberpunk dystopias typically comprise a world dominated by futuristic technology and draconian, ultra-powerful corporations. Protagonists in cyberpunk fiction tend to be disillusioned outsiders who rebel against the prevailing corporate framework. Often, they are also skilled hackers who spearhead insurgencies that disrupt the dystopian status quo.

The setting for cyberpunk fiction is dark and malevolent in nature, encompassing daunting levels of violence and structural decay. Cline pays tribute to the cyberpunk genre with mentions of the 1982 neo-noir cyberpunk movie Blade Runner (Chapter 26) and William Gibson's 1984 science fiction novel Neuromancer (Chapter 18). A description of the cyberpunk-themed world Neonoir is also found in Chapter 18. Gibson is significant because he is widely considered...

(The entire section is 1044 words.)