I'm trying to find an old sci-fi book. The trouble is, I read it a long time ago, and read many books in the mean time, so my recollection is a little hazy, but here goes…

It's sci-fi, set in the (then) near future, which is a kind of Bladerunner-esque Cyberpunk-ish setting in which everyone has either a computer implant or something similar that allows direct interface with something like the internet. There are a few unfortunates who can't adapt to the technology though, and the book focuses on one of these people, a man. The other thing that sort of connects to this book is that they describe a game similar to Go in it (as far as I remember), but I could have my books mixed up.

So, with that rather vague bit of description, and bearing in mind that the book would have been written before 1985, does anyone have any ideas?


This sounds a lot like John Brunner's The Shockwave Rider, a fantastic proto-cyberpunk novel from 1975. In it we have:

  • An information-saturated society. I don't remember if everyone is physically plugged in, but everyone does spend a lot of time in the information system.
  • A Go-like board game called "Fencing", where opponents try to fence their opponent in. Naturally, people on the internet have taken it and created a real game out of it.
  • A protagonist who's on the run, but is a brilliant hacker who is covering his tracks, including writing a computer worm (the inspiration for the real-life malware) that erases his tracks from the network.
  • At some point he visits a village where no-one is connected to the network, and tries to find peace there.

It's an excellent book, too. Highly recommended.

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    The Shockwave Rider doesn't have any kind of cybernetic implants (it's more like they have the Internet), nor is the protagonist unable to access the network (except at some point as a self-imposed restriction to avoid being traced IIRC). – user56 Sep 27 '12 at 19:43
  • That's true, but I figured that the rest of the hints were close enough, so maybe that bit got muddled in memory. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Sep 27 '12 at 21:24

The date would set this as very early cyberpunk. A lot of cyberpunk could be described as “Bladerunner-esque”, and the basic plot of having a hero who cannot fully participate in the cyber society is a fairly common one, so there isn't much to go on. However, I will tentatively venture Neuromancer by William Gibson, which introduced cyberspace (and the “Matrix”) and can be said to be the founding book for cyberpunk. Case, the hero of Neuromancer, cannot use a brain-computer interface to access cyberspace because he has been infected with a toxin as a punishment. Case seeks a cure for the toxin and discovers an illegal AI.

  • The more I read about Neuromancer, the more I want to read it. – AncientSwordRage Sep 27 '12 at 6:58
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    You should. Though it's a bit dated now, what with its projected future a bit anachronistic in some respects, but it's still very good. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Sep 27 '12 at 9:23

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