In the mid 1990’s, I worked my way through the foundational works of the cyberpunk genre. Neal Stephenson’s highly satirical Snow Crash (and the follow up, The Diamond Age), Bruce Sterling’s Islands in the Net, Richard Kadrey’s Metrophage and the works of William Gibson. It was the works of Gibson in particular that resonated with me. He was able to strike the perfect balance between hard-boiled crime fiction and cutting-edge tech (at least of the time). His fiction seemed set in our world, but to borrow a phrase,”20 minutes into the future.” Take the opening lines of “Johnny Mnemonic” for instance. “I put the shotgun in an Adidas bag and padded it out with four pairs of tennis socks, not my style at all, but that was what I was aiming for: If they think you’re crude, go technical; if they think you’re technical, go crude.” Gibson’s generous use of inserting name brands into his fiction, added an extra layer of verisimilitude to his stories. “Mnemonic” was featured in the short story collection, Burning Chrome. Of course, The Sprawl trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero & Mona Lisa Overdrive) was a tour de force of supercool tech, coupled with lowlife grifters, mercenaries, AI and ubiquitous mega-corporations. Gibson’s characters were world-weary, cynical individuals trying to get by in a pitiless world.
Flash forward several decades to Matthew X. Gomez’s, “Limitless.” Tom is a working stiff, who agrees to look into the disappearance of a stripper, at the behest of his ex-girlfriend. As Tom begins asking around about Milan’s whereabouts, he catches a whiff of corporate malfeasance and some Doctor Frankenstein level experimentation. The mad scientist in question is one Rufus Winkler, who is associated with the mega-corp, Limitless Industries. The name of the game is the creation of cybernetic soldiers and let’s just say, something a bit more ambitious. Tom is a street samurai, with a titanium arm and a computer in his cranium. Sunny, is his hot-shit hacker sister and his hypercompetent gal Friday. Together, through the combined use of brawn and brains, they get to the bottom of this missing person’s case and dole out a bit of justice in the process. One could picture Tom and Sunny downing pints of Kirin at The Chatsubo.”Limitless” could fit right in, nestled in between say, “Johnny Mnemonic” and “The Gernsback Continuum.”
And yet Gomez’s ensemble team veer away from Gibson’s template of highly cynical characters. Tom is more altruistic than, say, Molly Millions or Turner. I would contend that he has more in common with The Continental Op or sticking with the cyberpunk theme, the pizza delivery driver extraordinaire, Hiro Protagonist. “And somewhere out there was a girl. Might be dead already. Probably was. But might not. And she’d be scared and maybe hurting and needing help. And here Tom was, thinking about money. Like a wage slave. Fuck that noise.” In cyberpunk fiction (like in hardboiled crime fiction), money, or creds is king. It’s all about the ends. But sometimes, it’s about one’s personal code as well. Like any good ronin, Tom may be for hire, but he is his own man.
Fahrenheit Press released a limited run of “Limitless” (one hundred copies in total). They are sold out. But no worries. The story also appears in Gomez’s collection, God in Black Iron and Other Stories. There you will find all sorts of pulpy goodness ranging from cyberpunk, the paranormal and sword and sorcery fiction. And if you enjoy “Limitless,” the team of Tom and Sunny are back in action in the novel Project Prometheus (also published by Fahrenheit Press).
God in Black Iron & Other Stories
God in Black Iron & Other Stories
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