It was on sale — 99 cents — for a classic in its genre. Or just a classic that’s also rip–snorting fun. Good.

Hardwired (Complete Novel) – Walter Jon Williams

Remarkable author on many fronts, but this novel was a seminal event.

I have a first edition, harbound, with its original 80’s–era art. So cyber–punk.

As I recall, ripping good tale.

A decade or more after publication, I was navigating the “The Front Range,” another oblique reference to portions of my West Texas.

The first time I read the book, there was a young man’s urgency, a gripping nature to both the story and the prose itself. More raw, less polished.

“A protesting whisper runs through Cowboy’s mind. In it for the ride, not for the cargo.” Page 13.

Always with Western America theme — protagonist’s name is “Cowboy.”

“Cowboy has a steel guitar playing a lonesome cadenza somewhere in his mind.” Page 45.

The author had a presence on the old CompuServe — where I first encountered him. Given the original copyright date, the novel was remarkably prescient about the nature of our wired world. 2400 BAUD was fast, then.

I am totally unsure of what a “baud” was, as a unit of measurement. First it was 300, then faster at 1200, and finally 2400, with the next jump, hard for copper wire phone lines, 56K.

There’s an inherent richness and apparent feckless recklessness in Western Man.

“He’s playing a game with himself, pretending that there’s only friends and money at the end of this trip, and a fighting chance…that he’s walking west because it’s the only way he knows to go.” Page 123.

The West, the American West of myth and metaphor?

“If you need to get hold of me,” Cowboy says, “you can leave a message at the number of Randolph Scott, in Santa Fe. I’ll open the number in just a few days.”

As a standalone novel, this might be included in the canon of great American literature, crossing boundaries, and raising questions even today.

“They chase oblivion with every ride, and they rank themselves on how far they can push into the dark eye sockets of a crumbling death’s head in the sky, push and still come back.” Page 244.

Might be too much sex and drugs for that, but Rock’n’Roll? Who references Bob Wills’ The Texas Playboys as a musical allusion? That’s not rock.

Might be an inside joke, again, only denizens of the American West would get it. Great novel.

Hardwired (Complete Novel) – Walter Jon Williams


The similarities are — weird? Remarkable?

1 Trackback or Pingback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *