Even by the impressive standards of the subgenre, Hardwired is rife with criminals. The corporate employees are uniformly malevolent. Even Cowboy and Sarah's Orbital ally is the lesser of two evils. Williams' finest touch in Hardwired is the exploration of the myth of the rugged individual. Cowboy is in one sense a stock character; he could be played by a young Gary Cooper or Clint Eastwood, with a palpable sense of moral certaintly. Cowboy's from Oklahoma. He knows what's right and what's wrong. Texans--who stole his family's water and never returned anything to the land--are wrong, and he sees the Orbitals as another pack of Texans, planning on pillaging what isn't theirs.

Cowboy is smart, though. He's entirely aware of the myth that he's buying into, and Williams shows us a sense of doubt. The future of Hardwired has left no place open for a man like Cowboy, with his unwavering notions of honor, masculinity, and justice, so he's forced to become an outlaw. (A myth in itself, and one that must go back far beyond Robin Hood.) If Williams is making Cowboy an archetype, at least he's honest about it, and he lets Cowboy in on the joke; this is a character who has chosen his own name, who is aware of the Quixotic nature of his quest to bring down Tempel Pharmaceuticals, who wanted to get his cybereyes equipped with a black-and-white option so he could see life as one big John Wayne movie.

At the beginning of the book, Williams says that "here in these mountains named after the Blood of Christ are fantasies older than any on celluloid." A few pages from the books end, Cowboy "figures another chapter in the legend's going to start right about now." Hardwired may not be the best cyberpunk novel, but it is one that pays attention to the myths that define our culture and extrapolates what happens in a future that isn't quite ready for them.