PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Cyberpunk is a genre that isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, as technology grows and improves, it has become more relevant today than ever before. As our use of communications technology becomes more and more every day, it seems that the genre of cyberpunk has become more about social commentary than science fiction.

Monitor is a powerful novella-length story about the consequences of allowing the media machine to have too much control over your life. The main protagonist, Lana, is a young woman just trying to make a difference in the world. She works a soulless job as a customer services-type at MegaBuy; a megalithic online retailer that everyone uses as it’s so easy. The only things that are keeping her sane in such a tedious role are her slightly idealistic colleagues and her trusty mascot toy, a creepy little thing called Diversity Otter which just happens to have an AI and camera stuffed inside it.

Her life is changed when she decides to tag along to an anti-corporation protest and triggers a sequence of events that puts her front-and-centre in the middle of a reality TV show and media-powered witch hunt. The author and journalist, Leigh Alexander, is no stranger to the power of information technology and harassment. Alexander was one of the voices of reason during a recent Twitter-based online harassment campaign that focused principally on trying to bully women out of the gaming industry. This experience has clearly been used to lend weight and power to this tightly-written fable about how mobs and monsters can use technology to ruin lives.

Alexander’s storytelling is solid, well-paced and rather addictive. Another interesting element to this book is that Monitor is set in the Fantasy Flight Games world of Android. This world is perhaps best known to fans of the world famous card game Netrunner, a game which lends itself to social commentary as well. It’s rather heartening to see this book form a corner stone of what is essentially a tie-in series, and bodes well for the future of the franchise.

Monitor is a solid story and a worthwhile read. Essential for all Netrunner and cyberpunk fans out there.



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