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5.0 out of 5 stars HeadCrash Won Me With Humor
In a massive sea of cyberpunk books that take themselves way too seriously, HeadCrash is a shining example of how humor can turn an ordinary novel into a piece of literature that everyone should read. Bruce Bethke has created a book that is truly engaging for the reader.
One way he accomplished this is through an interesting plot line with numerous twists that kept...
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by Ben Tague

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars HeadCrash - Funny, but a rubbish end
From all the other rewiews you can see what the book is about, some applaud it others do it down.
The Humour of this book is rather good, its got a type of humour i can relate to easily
The cyberpunk view of how the nets gonna b like in the furutre with VR using datagloves, socks etc to feel and move in VR not excluding the haply named ProctoPod (which u don't...
Published on May 2 2003 by Divine Kane


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2.0 out of 5 stars HeadCrash - Funny, but a rubbish end, May 2 2003
This review is from: Headcrash (Paperback)
From all the other rewiews you can see what the book is about, some applaud it others do it down.
The Humour of this book is rather good, its got a type of humour i can relate to easily
The cyberpunk view of how the nets gonna b like in the furutre with VR using datagloves, socks etc to feel and move in VR not excluding the haply named ProctoPod (which u don't wanna where that goes)
MAX_COOL AKA Jack Burroughs looses his job, but gets offered something in VR he cannot refuse, a hacking job that could get him £1mill in real life if he succeeds.
The storyline has twists n turns and you c ppl from Jacks (PYLE) VR past and who they are in real life.
However my gripe is with the end of the book, everything goes out of the window and the courtroom chapters simply are confusing beyond belief and i feel rushed when they were being put down into words.
However for some good laffs and a insight into how the net could turn out i recommend this book, as long as you don't wanna read it till the end, shut it at one of the end chapters and make ur own one up i think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars HeadCrash Won Me With Humor, Nov. 21 2002
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This review is from: Headcrash (Mass Market Paperback)
In a massive sea of cyberpunk books that take themselves way too seriously, HeadCrash is a shining example of how humor can turn an ordinary novel into a piece of literature that everyone should read. Bruce Bethke has created a book that is truly engaging for the reader.
One way he accomplished this is through an interesting plot line with numerous twists that kept me constantly on guard. HeadCrash follows the story of :cybergeek" Jack Burroughs; a.k.a. Pyle; a.k.a. MAX_KOOL. The story starts with Jack going through a management shake up at MDE, Monolithic Diversified Enterprises. Later on, after Jack suddenly finds himself in a sticky situation, the reader watches as Jack uses his cyberspace alter ego, MAX_KOOL, and an embarrassing way to interface with the internet, to do a hack job for a mysterious woman known only as Amber. Saying anymore about the plot would lessen the amazing experience that any reader would have reading this book. The engaging plot and Bethke's outrageously funny style of writing made reading this book a truly positive experience.
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1.0 out of 5 stars OK if you enjoy the level of humor, Aug. 24 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Headcrash (Mass Market Paperback)
The book started with some promise: the protagonist is stuck in a dead-end job that he hates, working for a boss who loathes him, and living in Mom's basement. Good, let's see this conflict get resolved over the rest of the book, I thought.
No way. His problems are solved within a few chapters, and suddenly he's got his own consultancy, a cool if dilapidated loft space to live/work in, a big client, and a successful biz partner. OK there are some doubts about the client but all in all, everything's looking good right up until the end of the book, when he experiences some minor inconvenience that's soon put more than right. The few promises of conflict that crop up are all resolved in a few pages.
There was no attempt to make the world or characters believable. The approach seemed to be "this is satire: take your disbelief somewhere else, pal, because there's nowhere to suspend it from around here." Yeah, right. Go tell it to Robert Sheckley or Douglas Adams. Or Neal Stephenson, for that matter.
So there's not much to grip you and draw you into the story, which leaves the humor...
Unfortunately I'd come across too many of the jokes before, way back in the 80s (which gives you a hint as to my age: maybe youngsters will enjoy this more than us old-timers :-) Someone mentioned Dilbert, and that could be where I saw them... mushroom theory of management, anyone? How about the amazing irresistible miniature Soviet gizmo - oh, and don't forget the suitcase for the batteries, sir. Sorry, Bruce, seen 'em long before your book was published.
The rest of the humor involved things like neural interfaces that work when you put them..., well I'll leave it to your imagination where you put them, and a couple of running gags where (for example) his ex girlfriend turns up and attacks him at *every* crucial moment. If that sort of humor appeals, then this might be for you.
I'm in sympathy with the reviewer who was shocked that this won a PKD prize. The best thing I can say for it is that, as a first novel, it should give hope to unpublished writers everywhere because it shows that anything is possible, and utter garbage can pick up 5-star reviews right here.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Headcrash, Nov. 30 2001
By 
Lorelei (macomb, il USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Headcrash (Mass Market Paperback)
If you like sarcastic comedy then Headcrash is the book for you. I must say at times the comedy got a little annoying, but it kept me chuckling. Bethke did a great job of keeping his audience entertained. I thought the book was very interesting, and one of the best cyberpunk books I have ever read. Headcrash was one of the more believable futuristic novels if you don't count the talking bears, and dolls at the end. Headcrash can be compared to Snowcrash only in Snowcrash the characters could die in virtual reality, and in Headcrash virtual reality is what it was meant to be, a place to escape with out really getting hurt, or was it?
The protagonist in Headcrash, Jack, a.k.a Pyle, alias MAX_KOOL, was fired from his job, and was hired in virtual reality to steal files for another virtual user, Amber. The plot takes an exciting twist when Eliza, the assumed "bad" guy suddenly isn't so horrible. Through out the whole book you are left wondering "who are these virtual characters in real reality?" If you want to know, you have to read the whole book to find out. I must say the ending was very surprising, and kept me hoping there would be a sequel coming soon.
On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, one being the lowest, five being the highest I would give Headcrash 4 stars. I didn't give this book the full five stars because some parts of the book I found to be a little predictable and some parts were a little idiotic, but over all it was very entertaining, and you didn't have to sit down with a dictionary to get through the book. It was written in a very clear manner, as was Bethkes short story Cyberpunk.
Unlike many other cyberpunk books that jump from scene to scene, and have too many characters to keep track of, such as Slant, Headcrash flowed nicely, and the characters were well developed, and clearly separable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A funnier, less complex version of "Snow Crash", July 23 2000
By 
Tung Yin (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Headcrash (Paperback)
"Headcrash" started out slowly for the first chapter, which was devoted to establishing the nerdy thought processes of the narrator. After that, it kicks into high gear and never lets up.
Set in 2005, the plot is kind of a funny version of Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" (without the Sumerian mythology) crossed with Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City," with some doses of William Gibson's "Neuromancer." The narrator works as a tech-nerd at a huge corporate conglomerate, with a horrible boss, gets fired, and is approached to cause some havoc at his former employer's information database.
Much of the novel is set in a virtually real Internet -- and for once, an author writing about virtual reality does NOT resort to the "if you die in here, you die in reality" trick.
Bethke pays homage along the way to an impressive collection of pop culture: "The Godfather," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "Sesame Street," "Brave New World," and "Doom" and other first person shooter games among others. He takes aim at political correctness (there's a law against Ethnic Humor).
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5.0 out of 5 stars cherised the time spent within the brief confines the book., Feb. 9 1998
This review is from: Headcrash (Mass Market Paperback)
I found this piece simply, delightfully dapper! Rather than wankering around trying to re-invent the wheel of cyber-noir (read: high tech hard boiled hard/soft sci-fi techno mysticism add water have story gumbo), this book introduces a level of cultural and technical extrapolation that simply doesn't occure elsewhere as brilliantly. For example, William Gibson, albeit a genious on an even playing field, gets very fuzzy around the edges on the technical front. That's fine, sure, but when you pick up a book and personally HAVE an understanding of current technology, and additionally, know a bit about how that came to be, "fuzzy" doesn't work. Fingers need to be stuck into the proverbial stigmatas, the deeper the better, and this book delivers all the wonderful techno-babble derived from all the real nick-knacks that are and have been. Bethke has an understanding of the corporate atmosphere rivalling Scott Adams, a verve for banter similar to ol' guru Douglas Adams, a perception of how artificial intelligence might actually play out that envokes Rudy Rucker's works, and an understanding of dual existence (of real geek versus virtual glam). He constructs actions, reprocutions and most of all consiquences as subtle and deep as a Haruki Murakami short story, but also makes a point of tying in all the contrived gimics (while similtaneously satiring) that have made Critin and Speilberg such wealthy men indeed. He scribes rich descriptions of settings and manages to work them into the narrative without destroying the pace (something Bruce Sterling could stand to work on). Bethke unabashedly looks at trends, gender issues, cultures (contrived and otherwise), political correctness, decades worth of ridicule vs. acceptance, Orwellian beurocracy (no one gets "fired" anymore, he he), Artistic derevations, HTML scripting/"hotpoints" (one click to nowhere)/java-esque applets vs. linear text, generational memory, musical persistency, pop/pulp mass media entertainment, coloquialisms (new and old, like quoting Star Wars/Trek without knowing where the utterance origionally came from, or caring), network games on the LAN during business hours, all this and a singing coffee maker, too. There is a lot of little things going on here, snippets of jibe and awareness that the casual tourist might easily pass by. Honestly, as a jaded, cynical reader who makes PC video games for a living, it has been truely refreshing to read a book that was so dead on target about how things are and could easily be, a book that doesn't curb bets or hide away flaws behind mystical shaman-come-author drivel. I can understand why he won his award. Phillip K. Dick had, above all else, a sense of irony. Like Phillip, Max Headroom, Jeff Noon or Neal Stephenson, Bethke has presented a piece that depicts said irony. The delightful surprise here is that Bethke (like a technogeek Hunter S. Thomson or William S. Burroughs) bothers to pull away all the curtains and pull off all the scabs to present all the oxymoronic, intermingled, ever mutating elements that create the great ironies of the world at large, now and to be. He even comments on all the resolution issues plagueing multi-player games today: "to 3dfx or not to 3dfx", optimized build vs. debug, even to cache texture memory or to just run wireframe (he, of course, makes all that quit amusing, as if it weren't already amusing enough). Makes for one hell of a ride, and I can only hope for more to come. Cheers!
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4.0 out of 5 stars If only Neal Stephenson and Bethke could get together..., Jan. 25 1998
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This review is from: Headcrash (Paperback)
This is the book that Snow Crash should have been. Now, before I am attacked as a heretic, let me say that I'd be the first to admite that Neal Stephenson is a much better writer than Bethke. It's just that Stephenson has a tin ear when it comes to humor, whereas Bethke is spot-on. As good as Stephenson's writing is, I found much of the humor in Snow Crash (which was another attempt at a send-up of the cyberpunk genre) to be slightly funnier than a dumb Saturday Night Live skit. Bethke's parody is much more inspired. It helps to be familiar with the shopworn cliches of cyberpunk before you read this. All the elements of your standard-issue cyberpunk thriller are mercilessly skewered in this book: characters who are so impossibly cool that they have to drink antifreeze, the ritualistic scenes of "suiting up" in incredibly cool cyber-equipment, hopelessly optimistic portrayals of the future of virtual reality, pointless fads of the present extrapolated into earth-shaking trends of the future, and the Incredibly Greedy and Faceless Corporate-Government Cartel that Controls the World. Tom Clancy, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Crichton are also spoofed. Once again, Bethke's writing style is only marginally better than what you'd expect from a bright college sophomore, but it does the job. Now, if only we could have a novel with Stephenson's gifted writing and Bethke's sense of humor, we might really have something.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lives up to it's billing..., Sept. 16 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Headcrash (Paperback)
The book cover proclaimed "Winner of the Phillip K. Dick award" and the back cover bore a quote comparing the book to Dilbert - a combination I HAD to try out.The book lives up to it's billing as Bethke tears off on a romp which skewers just about everybody. Corporate America takes a hit as do rock icons "The Who" and "The 'Stones", movies Jurassic Park (plus sequels) and Outworld, pro wrestling, the mafia, Firesign Theatre, you name it. If you look real close, there's some Abbot and Costello and Monty Python thrown in for good effect. On one level the book is "Revenge of the Nerds" but there are enough layers of obscure references and subtle double entendre's to give the book some depth.
I did wish the plot to be a bit stronger. None of these ruined the book for me but then similar problems in the Airplane and Naked Gun movies never bothered me either. It was a fun ride and I'm looking forward to Bethke's next book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If you're even slightly interested, READ THIS BOOK!, Nov. 30 2001
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This review is from: Headcrash (Mass Market Paperback)
HeadCrash by Bruce Bethke is a cyber-satire with a great mix of action, plot and humor. Jack Burroughs, the protagonist, is a computer nerd who works for an exceptionally large corporation by day, and by night on the Internet as the too-cool Max_Kool. But, when Jack is fired, he takes up a job as a free-lance cyber-mercenary. The action and hilarity ensues from there including hand-to-hand combat with seven-foot virtual Vikings, Nazis, and cross-dressing mob girls.
Bethke's writing style is so entertaining and fluid that you don't ever want to put down the book. This book is like a cyberpunk version of the movie OfficeSpace, but unlike most other cyberpunk books, HeadCrash does not take itself seriously in the least. This comes as a refreshing change to anyone who has read many cyberpunk novels, but despite that, I would recommend this book to anyone (with the exception to young children, if you get my drift).
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1.0 out of 5 stars Philip K. Dick is rolling over in his grave, July 23 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Headcrash (Paperback)
This is an awfully written, witless book. The fact that it won the Philip K. Dick Award strips the prize of any credibility it used to have. The beginning is entertaining, but unoriginal: virtually every joke was stolen from the comic strip Dilbert. After the protagonist is fired and no longer works in an office, the author is forced to steal jokes from somewhere else. Apparently he couldn't think of any other place to steal from, because the middle third of the book scarcely advances the plot while keeping the unthinking masses satiated with juvenile oral sex anecdotes and euphemisms for the word "penis." The climax hinges on a bunch of ludicrous coincidences that would make the literary god of stupid coincidences, Charles Dickens, roll his eyes. The ending is the only part that satirizes cyberpunk, with lines like "We'll get them in the sequel." Don't read this garbage.
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