Pat Cadigan: Synners (Case Study)

Authored by: Ritch Calvin

The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815351931
eBook ISBN: 9781351139885
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the central role of Pat Cadigan—i.e., the “Queen of Cyberpunk”—in the cyberpunk mode. As the only woman writer included among the list of original cyberpunk writers, Cadigan’s novel Synners won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1992 and has been called one of the best examples of print cyberpunk. The densely plotted novel depicts a group of “synners” who create computer-generated music videos, but everything changes thanks to a new direct neural implant technology that offers exciting new potentials for the characters, but also dangerous pitfalls with deadly consequences. This chapter advances a feminist reading of Synners that shows the novel foregrounds questions of gender, ecological concerns, sexual freedom, and embodiment. At the same time, a queer reading of Synners expands representations of sexualities, severs the relationship between body and identity, and stretches the boundaries of cyberpunk and, more broadly, science fiction.

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