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John Wicker
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 08:27 pm:   


I have loved your Takeshi Kovacs novels thus far (having read _Altered Carbon_ and _Broken Angels_, and waiting anxiously for _Woken Furies_ to be released here in the States), so hats off to you for creating some of the best fiction I've come across for the last decade-and-a-half or so.

I'm not really keyed into Sci-Fi culture much at all, so while I know that Jon Walter Williams is a big deal in the realm of cyberpunk, I'm not sure just how well known anything beyond _Hardwired_ was received. Hence this question, which may be terribly naive, but... I've just gotta ask it anyway :-)

I'm curious if you're familiar with Jon Walter William's _Voice of the Whirlwind_ and what your overall impressions of it might be. I ask because of the superficial similarities between the two works, at least in terms of some of the back story and set up. To whit, both _Whirlwind_ and your Kovacs series have technology allowing the transferal of mind (serial cloning in Williams' work, stack technology in yours). Both works have the discovery of alien races and their respective technologies as a primary backdrop (Walters gave us The Powers, who have showed up again while we humans squabble over their leftovers, and you present the Martians, who left behind all their star charts and random detritus, and who may or may not show up again). Perhaps most strikingly, both works involve characters that have both been through mind-shaping training programs which have left them ill-suited for a life outside of conflict. Both survived horrific conflicts (even if Stewart didn't have the memories of it) and came out the other side still carrying most of the horror with them.

I've read and re-read _Voice of the Whirlwind_ several times through the years and for my money it is Williams' best work. I've read and re-read AC and BA in the short time I've had them and I have a feeling that both universes will be ones that I continue to revisit many times.

They say there's nothing new under the sun. I don't happen to agree with that in principal, as these two universes are still startlingly different, but I still dig the fact that you guys came up with such similar ideas and went two completely different places with them.

So, have you heard of _Whirlwind_? Read it? If so, did you ever stop and think about it when crafting _Altered Carbon_, and did that steer you one way or the other?

Cheers, mate! (Which is what I understand you Brits say to each other, at least in all the Hugh Grant or Stripping Steel Worker movies I've seen) :-)
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Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2005 - 05:13 am:   

Yeah, that's about right, though most of us don't have the floppy hair, and gosh has been largely superseded as an exclamation of shock/delight/bafflement.

Haven't heard of Whirlwind, or read it. I do remember reading Hardwired a long while back, I think (balkanised US, implant enhanced tank drivers for hire, something like that?), but it wasn't a conscious influence on the Kovacs books - they owe most of their substance to a mix of crime noir (Ellroy, Block, Sallis, Lee Burke and - obviously - Raymond Chandler's Big Sleep), cyberpunk (the movie Bladerunner, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley et al) and old school SF (mainly Poul Anderson and Bob Shaw), with a bit of ur-cyberpunk in the shape of M John Harrison's Centauri Device thrown in.

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