(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The publication of William Gibson’s Neuromancer in 1984 marked the start of a new science-fiction subgenre, that of cyberpunk. A response to the mid-1980’s technology explosion, which saw the proliferation of the personal computer and the exponential expansion of the Internet, cyberpunk visualizes a future in which the most significant events occur not in reality but in the cyberspace of computer networks. Here called the Dataline, this network provides images, information, and promises, offering a virtual life for those whose real one proves untenable. The life the net can offer, however, is limited by the source of its content: faceless multinational corporations that, as the inheritors of broadcasting corporations, care more for profit margins than healthy product.

As Synners opens, the life the Dataline has to offer is about to expand dramatically because of the sockets technology, which allows for direct neural interface with the net. Immediately grasping the possibilities for new profits, the novel’s malignant spirit, Manny Rivera, pushes Diversifications, Inc. into the socket business without care for the implications of so altering the relationship between brain and net.

The only room for love and morality in this brutally competitive world lies on the Mimosa, the home of toxed-up bums as well as extended families such as that of Sam, Rosa, Keely, and Fez. The existence and stability of this type of extended...

(The entire section is 432 words.)