THEMES / CONCEPTS
- A.I.: Dr. Artie Fish:
virus, a.i., and tremendously smug, is an important
character in the second half of the book. Interestingly,
Cadigan makes Artie less an intentional creation--like
Wintermute or Frankenstein--and more something that just,
well, happened. [ESSAY]
- THE CORPORATION: The
only corp we see in Synners is Diversification,
but unlike the vast majority of cyberpunks, we actually
see some employees as real, three-dimensional people.
Gabe is a sympathetic character, and his existance made
raises of where all the pleasant, intelligent middle
managers have disappeared to in books like Neuromancer
and Snow Crash.
- CRIME: As in so many
cyberpunk novels, a large number of the characters in
this book are hackers and engaged in illegal activity.
Unlike many cyberpunk novels, Cadigan describes the
justice system and the consequences of their acts.
- CYBERTECH: Implants
are ubiquitous in this book; designed to help people cope
with brain disfunction and mental illness, they've
instead found a use on the street helping people
--addicts-- get off and get high. [ESSAY]
- POSTHUMANISM: In
addition to Visual Mark, who dies and leaves the meat
entirely behind, taking up residence inside the Net
(through the power of Artie Fish's program), Gabe
develops two artificial friends who participate in VR
adventures with him. Marly & Caritha are B-movie
grade stereotypes (intentionally), but they have their
own personalities. Gabe's sense of betrayal when Manny
decides to mass-market them is palpable. (Ironically, his
great concern through much of the novel is that his
creation of the two will be discovered and he'll be fired
for violating the copyright on the original images.) For
an example of what might lead to the technology of
cyberfriends, check out the intelligent agents at Firefly.
- POST-WAR: Although a
semi-functional government is still in place, Synners
takes place in California after The Big One; while much
social structure of contemporary America has remained,
the psychic toll has left the state filled with burn-outs
dependant on implants for stabilization.
- RELIGION: St. Dismas,
Patron Saint of the Incurably Informed: is a running
image throughout Synners. St. Dismas was the
"good thief", so his followers liberate
information in his name. It's fairly clear that St. Diz
is something of an in-joke among the book's hackers, but
the choice of metaphors is interesting nonetheless.
- SIMSTIM: The
"simstim" in Synners is the
socket; while most of the novel is merciful realistic in
its description of technology (the Net is, amazingly,
still text-based; VR is recognizable as VR), the
Macguffin that drives the plot is the development of the
socket, which enables one to record visual images from
and play them back directly to the brain.