SF Masterwork of the Week: Pat Cadigan’s SYNNERS

Most SF writers will tell you that they’re not trying to predict the future. Contrary to popular belief, science fiction – good science fiction, at least – is not about the future at all, it is about the world the author saw while she was writing the book. But every now and again a book comes along that seems to have an uncanny insight into what is to come. With Synners, Pat Cadigan has written such a book.

In Synners, the line between technology and humanity is hopelessly slim. To be a Synner is to join the online hardcore, an outlaw band of hackers, simulation pirates, and reality synthesizers hooked on artificial reality and virtual space. Now you can change yourself to suit the machines – all it costs you is your freedom, and your humanity.

Synners shows us a world perilously close to our own. A constant stream of new technology spawns new crime before it hits the streets, and the human mind and the external landscape have fused to the point where any encounter with “reality” is incidental. Equal parts thrill-ride and cautionary tale, this classic novel by the Queen of Cyberpunk offers us a terrifying glimpse into the future of our race.

What was cutting-edge cyberpunk when it was first published now looks suspiciously like a blueprint for the future we find rushing towards us.  This Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel looks more and more prescient with every day, and reminds us that no genre can match SF’s ability to explore and try to understand the frenetic, ever-changing times in which we live. Or, as Lisa Tuttle says in her introduction: ‘Read Synners now, before it happens.’

Synners is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook.

You can read an extract from Synners here, and find more of Pat Cadigan’s cutting edge fiction at her author page on the SF Gateway.

For more information about Pat Cadigan see her entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.