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The Cybernetic Walrus: The Wonderland Gambit: Book One [Paperback]

Jack L. Chalker
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 14 1995 Wonderland Gambit (Book 1)
That was the strange message left on Cory Maddox's e-mail--just at the moment when years of work on a revolutionary subspace computer system was about to pay off. Nothing would be the same for Cory again. Suddenly his life was thrown into chaos when the company that controlled his patent was sold out from under him, and instead of imminent wealth, Cory was facing immediate poverty. Then along came Alan Stark, who wanted to recruit Cory for a special research project on virtual reality.
Stark was reviving the secret NSA work of the legendary Matthew Brand, who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances years before. Cory had always idolized Brand, so he was initially thrilled to be involved. But he quickly discovered that there was nothing virtual about the realities he was working on. Instead, he found that Stark was on the verge of controlling the very fabric of reality itself.
Cory was unsure of Stark's ultimate goal, until he began to recall pieces of another life and found himself in the middle of a battle between two groups of people who could use "rabbit holes" in space and time to jump between different realities, personalities, and lives. Whoever had control of the power to shape reality would have the power to become a god--or a devil. But before Cory could combat Stark and his minions, he first had to remember which side he was on...

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From Library Journal

A corporate takeover forces brilliant computer programmer Cory Maddox to look for another job. He accepts a government position too tempting to refuse?to continue the work of the late Matthew Brand, a virtual reality pioneer. After settling into his new environment, Maddox slowly begins to realize that what he has known as "reality" is not what it seems. Veteran sf author Chalker (Shadows of the Well of Souls, LJ 2/15/94) embarks on a new series that explores the boundaries of human identity, space, time, and the nature of reality itself. Chalker once again demonstrates his talents as one of the genre's leading raconteurs. For most sf collections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Fresh from a trilogy of episodes in his Well World saga, Chalker quickly inaugurates a new series that explores the mind-bending limits of virtual reality. Cory Maddox is a brilliant programmer for a fledgling computer network company. He is promptly recruited by the National Security Agency when his company suspiciously sells out to a competitor. His new job involves reactivating an aborted virtual reality project pioneered by computer wizard Matthew Brand, whose incorporation of top secret alien technology apparently led to his demise. Checking out the agency's cyberspace realms, Maddox is soon trapped inside a perfect reproduction of base reality with no clear way out or even any certainty that base reality actually exists. Characteristically, Chalker's initially hard-sf premise gives way to increasingly bizarre and sometimes confusing plot developments, including body switching, alien intervention, and alternative universe hopping. Die-hard cyberpunks may want to pass, but Chalker stalkers should be delighted. Carl Hays

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars First get a good grip on Reality Sept. 10 2002
Jack L. Chalker's theory of existence was spelled out in Book I, P. 223: "... Sometime, somebody, in a world we otherwise know nothing about but which has to be far more advanced than the one we now knew, built a vast computer for some reason and put tremendous knowledge and capability into it. Something went wrong, or so it seemed. A group, a small group, of people from that original place, that true universe, had come into the system and gotten lost, then trapped, in an ever-increasing series of exquisitely detailed virtual universes.. [Brand] was the only hope of getting everybody together again and back to reality. ..."
Chalker wrote, "All reality is programming. We cannot know the real: we are trapped in an endless series of simulations, all of us, and some, like myself, in simulations within simulations. ...." He uses an IT, a thing, a faceless one or a gray ancient to speak these lines, rather than a flesh and blood character. This device implied a para-programmer, one outside the mind of man. This invented God is in control not only of the author outside the story's pages but in control of all the characters within the pages of the book.
Reality now has a counterpart, virtual reality. The characters, en mass, stare into the mirror of their own minds and realize that they had no measuring rod with which to gauge their own realities. The mind is self reflective. The mind has no outer objective way to measure either its input or output. The characters reveal the dead end of human thought. The fact that the tactile nerves register solidity reveals little regarding production or projection of such solidity. There is no way to distinguish whether the neurons fire due to sensory input rather than from say drugs or computer generated inputs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good 13th Floory Fun May 12 2001
I know! Thirteenth Floor wasn't based on this novel (or the series, either), but that movie kept coming to mind as I read the first part of Cybernetic Walrus. Chalker is original and creative in this book, though, and it's much more satisfying than the "What Is Real?" movies out there. A thoroughly enjoyable book, stands as an adventure in its own right, but also beckons the reader on to the rest of the trilogy.
The protagonist, Cory Maddox undergoes plenty of transformation in this story, running through several life "phases" while trying to sort out who to trust. One of the enjoyable features of this series is that the reader is never quite certain who he should trust, either. Often, I found myself wanting to urge Cory & Riki to trust the wrong (in hindsight) characters.
Plenty here for either the SF or fantasy fan. Thoroughly enjoyable--Chalker knows how to entertain while stretching the mind and imagination. Perhaps the worst feature of this book is that the 3rd book of the trilogy is so difficult to obtain.
A solid four-star rating: great fun, but not absolute genius.
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By A Customer
Follows the usual theme in J Chalker's books that everyting including identity is fluid.
In this novel he appears to have decided to adopt a more hard science fiction approach as opposed to his more normal sod the science lets keep the plot moving style. This I believe has not added greatly to the interest of the book and has reduced its readability. However persevere there are some good ideas in there.
It should be interesting to see how he develops the premise in books two and three.
In this books he is addressing the same Zeitgeisty theme as Sliders, Quantum Leap, and Hard Questions by Ian Watson
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - A great read! April 15 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Chalker always amazes me with his imagination. Much of fantasy/science fiction literature follows familiar established themes with some originality thrown in from time to time. For all of that, it is very entertaining for the most part. It is very hard for a writer to surprise his readers today. To be able to take familiar ideas, put subtle twists on them using current technology, and create something so completely new and entertaining is a true gift and Jack Chalker has it. I can't begin to express the enjoyment his works have given me. This series has to one of his best yet
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am optimistic about the story line itself.
The concept of alternate universes and a "true" existence
are fascinating ideas. I was a little confused about the
allegiences of various characters although to be honest I
know that was partly Mr Chalker's intention. Years ago I
read the Well of the Soul series and loved the idea of the
"create anything" machine. I think Mr Chalker has created an
equally wonderful introduction to the characters and story
here. I am very excited about where the plot will go.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best cyberspace series yet! Dec 19 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jack Chalker continues his tradition of unique ideas and perspectives in the Wonderland series. What starts out as a classic cyberspace story quickly turns in unexpected directions. This book will definitely get you thinking about the true nature of reality. If you liked the movie, "The Matrix," get this book! The movie stole Chalker's ideas without giving credit, and the book explores the ideas to a greater depth. Too bad Del Rey is so short-sighted and has not reprinted the 3rd book in this series.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not much like "The Matrix" at all
I tracked down a copy of this book after reading the comments suggesting that "The Matrix" appropriated some of Chalker's ideas. Read more
Published on May 12 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars I Guarantee You Will Love This Book
If you are naturally curious, like interesting plot twists and rich environments, then you are going to love this book. Read more
Published on April 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars the nature of reality, and the mystery of its control clash.
Mr Chalker takes an ongoing presence in the works of the great Phillip K. Dick, and spins the begginigs of a series that will not let any fans down. Read more
Published on June 24 1998 by Edna Eudave-Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Premise: "Everything You Think You Know is Wrong"
Chalker takes a great premise (and acknowledges Philip Dick for the inspiration) and makes a terrific story from it. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 1998 by John T. Horner
5.0 out of 5 stars Disconcerting. Question Reality.
If you enjoy books that make you think, this one will set your gears a-spinnin' at high speed! The premise is wonderful, the characters well-drawn and constantly changing their... Read more
Published on March 6 1997
4.0 out of 5 stars Jack Chalker's a Phenomenon
An engrossing book laced with lunacy that starts off low-key and then slips -- Oops -- through the literary and metaphysical and scientifc (actually, I found the hard-science stuff... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 1997
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly above average Chalker.
After reading the latest Chalker well world book I was wary.
The last well world book was not up to par in my estimate.
The Cybernetic Walrus was pretty good overall. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 1996
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