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Book Details

The Shockwave Rider

85.7% complete
1 time
Science fiction
See 3
Book I - The Basic Straining Manual
Book II - The Delphi Coracle
Book III - Splicing the Brain Race
Book Cover
Has a genre Has a synopsis Has an extract Has a year read Has a rating In my library 
No series
Copyright © 1975 by Brunner Fact & Fiction Ltd.
No dedication.
Take 'em an inch and they'll give you a hell.
May contain spoilers
Well - how did you vote?
No comments on file
Synopsis* (may contain spoilers)
The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner is a groundbreaking science fiction novel published in 1975. Set in a future world where society is controlled by massive computer networks, the story follows the protagonist, a young man named Nick Haflinger, who possesses exceptional computer hacking skills. In this dystopian society, where personal freedoms are severely restricted, Nick uses his abilities to navigate a world dominated by powerful corporations and government surveillance.

The novel opens with Nick as a child attending a government-run school where his exceptional intelligence is recognized and exploited by the authorities. Rather than oppress him, the system tries to use his skills to further its own agenda. However, Nick rebels against this control and escapes the school, going on the run to avoid capture.

As the story progresses, Nick adopts various identities and infiltrates different systems under pseudonyms. He becomes known as the Shockwave Rider, a skilled hacker who manipulates data to disrupt and challenge the status quo. Through his actions, Nick aims to expose the flaws in the system and bring about change in a society where individual freedoms are suppressed by oppressive institutions.

One of the central themes of the novel is the impact of technology on society and the struggle for personal autonomy in a world where surveillance and control are omnipresent. Brunner explores the ethical dilemmas of technological advancement and questions the balance between security and freedom in a digital age.

As Nick delves deeper into the underground world of hackers and activists, he becomes embroiled in a complex web of conspiracies and power struggles. His actions attract the attention of both the authorities and underground resistance groups, leading to a high-stakes battle for control over information and power.

Throughout the novel, Brunner creates a vivid and immersive world that reflects the concerns and anxieties of the 1970s regarding technology, government surveillance, and individual liberty. The narrative builds to a climactic confrontation where Nick must confront his own past and make a choice that will shape the future of society.

The Shockwave Rider is a thought-provoking novel that remains relevant today, offering a cautionary tale about the consequences of unchecked technological advancement and the importance of individual agency in the face of oppressive systems.

Extract (may contain spoilers)
"What about school, Haflinger?"

"Was it really my name...?  Don't bother to answer; that was rhetorical.  I just didn't like it.  Overtones of 'half,' as though I was condemned never to become a finished person.  And I didn't care for Nick, either."

"Do you know why not?"

"Sure I do.  In spite of anything it may say to the contrary on my record, I have excellent juvenile recall.  Infantile too, in fact.  I found out early about Auld Nick, the Scottish term for the devil.  Also 'to nick,' meaning to arrest or sometimes to steal.  And above all Saint Nick.  I never did manage to find out how the same figment could give rise to both Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of thieves."

"Maybe it was a matter of giving with one hand and taking away with the other.  Did you know that in Holland Sinter Klaas brought gifts to children in the company of a black man who whipped the ones who hadn't behaved well enough to deserve a present?"

"That's news to me, and very interesting, Mr. - Mr. Freeman, isn't it?"

"You were going to tell me how you remember school."

"Should have known better than to try and strike up a brotherly chat.  Yes, school.  Much the same the teachers turned over even faster than my temporary parents, and every new arrival seemed to have a new theory of education, so we never, did learn very much.  But of course in most respects it was a hell of a lot worse than - uh - home."


Added: 14-Feb-2024
Last Updated: 14-Mar-2024


If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists in treating another human being as a thing.


Ballantine Books
Mass Market Paperback
In my libraryOrder from amazon.comHas a cover imageBook Edition Cover
Date Issued:
Cir 01-Mar-1976
Mass Market Paperback
Cover Price:
Catalog ID:
Internal ID:
United States
Murray Tinkelman  - Cover Artist

"When John Brunner first told me of his intention to write this book, I was fascinated - but I wondered whether he, or anyone, could bring it off.  Bring it off he has - with cool brilliance.  A hero with transient personalities, animals with souls, think tanks and survival communities fuse to form a future so plausibly alive it has twitched at me ever since."
- Alvin Toffler
Author of
Future Shock

He Was The Most
Dangerous Fugitive Alive,
But He Didn't Exist!

Nickie Haflinger had lived a score of lifetimes... but technically he didn't exist.  He was a fugitive from Tarnover, the high-powered government think tank that had educated him.  First he had broken his identity code - then he escaped.

Now he had to find a way to restore sanity and personal freedom to the computerized masses and to save a world tottering on the brink of disaster.

He didn't care how he did it... but the government did.  That's when his Tarnover teachers got him back in their labs... and Nickie Haflinger was set up for a whole new education!

Book CoverBook Back CoverBook Spine
Notes and Comments:
First Ballantine Books Edition: March, 1976
Assumed first printing
Skyboat Media, Inc.
In my libraryI read this editionOrder from amazon.comHas a cover imageBook Edition Cover
Date Issued:
Cir 07-Apr-2020
Cover Price:
9 hrs 3 min (289 pages)
1)   20 Feb 2024 - 22 Feb 2024
Cover Link(s):
Internal ID:
United States
Stefan Rudnicki  - Narration
He was the most dangerous fugitive, but didn’t exist!

Nickie Haflinger had lived several lifetimes...but technically never existed. He was originally a fugitive from Tarnover, the incredibly powerful government think tank that educated him. First he had broken his identity code - then he made his escape.

Now he needed to find a way to restore sanity and freedom to the computerized masses and save a world nearing the brink of disaster. He didn’t care how he accomplished this - but the government did. That’s when his Tarnover teachers took him back into their labs, where Nickie Haflinger was set up to receive a whole new education.
Book Cover
Notes and Comments:
©2014 John Brunner ℗2020 by Blackstone Publishing and Skyboat Media, Inc.



 John Brunner
Birth: 24 Sep 1934 Preston Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Death: 26 Aug 1995 Glasgow, Scotland, UK


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  • I try to maintain page numbers for audiobooks even though obviously there aren't any. I do this to keep track of pages read and I try to use the Kindle version page numbers for this.
  • Synopses marked with an asterisk (*) were generated by an AI. There aren't a lot since this is an iffy way to do it - AI seems to make stuff up.
  • When specific publication dates are unknown (ie prefixed with a "Cir"), I try to get the publication date that is closest to the specific printing that I can.
  • When listing chapters, I only list chapters relevant to the story. I will usually leave off Author Notes, Indices, Acknowledgements, etc unless they are relevant to the story or the book is non-fiction.
  • Page numbers on this site are for the end of the main story. I normally do not include appendices, extra material, and other miscellaneous stuff at the end of the book in the page count.

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Presented: 15-Jul-2024 03:51:49

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