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Exploring the Matrix: Visions of the Cyber Present Hardcover – May 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (May 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312313586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312313586
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,356,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Larry and Andy Wachowski scored big in 1999 with The Matrix, a science-fiction film in which cyber-rebels discover the world is an artificial computer-generated construct. Beneath the film's airborne martial arts were philosophical underpinnings, and the thriller's huge success prompted piles of merchandise, animated shorts, magazines, Web sites and books. Now a new wave begins, timed to coincide with the May 15 release of The Matrix Reloaded, the second feature in the series. This anthology covers the film's concepts and themes. Haber, a veteran sci-fi and fantasy editor, assembles an array of original essays by 17 science-fiction authors and digital artists, including Alan Dean Foster, Joe Haldeman, Bruce Sterling and Ian Watson. John Shirley (Black Butterflies), insightfully explores what he defines as a new cinema movement of "films questioning reality" as he compares The Matrix with American Beauty, Fight Club and the enigmas embedded in Mulholland Drive. Shirley sees allegories amid adolescent imagery, while nanotech novelist Kathleen Ann Goonan finds the Zen within. David Brin traces fiction's "suspicion of authority"; writer-illustrator Dean Motter tours The Matrix's kinetic architecture; and Kevin J. Anderson examines the Columbine connection. Philip K. Dick and cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson both get many mentions throughout this compelling collection, yet Gibson is regrettably absent as a contributor. Displaying 20 imaginative b&w illustrations by Robert Zohrab and Darrel Anderson, these potent pages conclude with a six-page section of author profiles.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Compelling . . . imaginative . . . potent."
- Publishers Weekly

"Editor Karen Haber has attracted an impressive list of major SF names...it's fascinating to see the reactions each of these authors has to the film."
- Cinescape

"Dazzling...Each piece subjects the movie to a deep scrutiny that serves to make it ever more intriguing...this is at once entertaining and instructive."
- Locus

"A fun browse for information-hungry fans."
- Library Journal

"Interpretations and riffs, criticism and praise, pop-culture film theory and gosh-wow pseudo-philosophy...readers who loved the movies and grabbed the book because of that will discover a great many ideas they've never heard of before."
- Analog

"Think The Matrix is just a neat Keanu Reeves sci-fi flick with cool sunglasses and big guns? Guess again, bucko. This essay collection shows how the first part of the Wachowski brothers' trilogy is really about Taoism, oracular philosophy, moral relativism, Ronald Reagan, and Big Brother...many of the pieces should also entertain."
- Maxim

"You never know quite what to expect from nonfiction tie-in to a popular film, but Exploring the Matrix, edited by Karen Haber, exceeds whatever the expectations are--and with considerable brio . . . A must-read for the film's fans."
- Paula Guran, Dark Echo
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
This book was very entertaining.
Christopher H. Harrington
Each essay seems to be a bad imitation of all the others in the book.
A. Wood
Great book to read before watching the next two films.
Michael Valdivielso

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By "darkecho" on April 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You never know quite what to expect from a nonfiction tie-in to a
popular film or series. (I'm sure one of these days we'll see THE RELIGIOUS IMPLICATIONS OF DOCTOR WHO,
and HANNIBAL LECTER'S FAVORITE RECIPES and they'll be just as bad as
those titles suggest.) But EXPLORING THE MATRIX, edited by Karen
Haber, exceeds whatever the expectations are -- and with considerable
brio.
EXPLORING THE MATRIX offers far more than a choice of red or blue
pill. There are predictable references to William Gibson, P.K Dick,
Charles Dodgson, Jack Williamson, and Nick Bostrum; but there are
also random flashes of the unexpected: "Punk fashion has always been
protective armor. The spikes, the leather, the razors, the zippers,
they are what you put on after flower-power has choked to death on
its own vomit. It's Kevlar for the soft marshmallow core of youthful
idealism." (Bruce Sterling)..."The result of figure _without_ ground
is _Symbolism_." (Dean Motter)... "the most successful movements are
always punished by becoming clichés" (David Brin)...Joe Haldeman
muses briefly about interpreting the movie through the obscure
mythology of sf fandom (and wisely tiptoes by that sleeping dog.)
You'll find some agreement and constant contradictions: THE MATRIX is
nothing but style / THE MATRIX has spiritual depth. It has nothing to
do with cyberpunk; it has everything to do with cyberpunk. And the
essays say a surprising (and contradictory) amount about cyberpunk
itself. Most of the essays are more entertaining than weighty. It's
all well-written, formalized "sitting around the bar with very
intelligent, witty friends at a great con" stuff rather than
dissertation material.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Curupira on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book, with essays written by several science fiction and cyberpunk authors, like John Shirley, Bruce Sterling, Stephen Baxter and others. Some essays are great, others are so-so, but all in all, it is definetly worth its price.
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By A. Wood on September 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Well-meaning hipsters write tediously, and repetitively. Desert of the real. Not in Kansas. Dead TV channel colour. Yadda yadda yadda.

A book of similar sentences repeating the same old ideas but in a different order in every chapter. Each essay seems to be a bad imitation of all the others in the book.

There are bright spots. The opening chapter by the science fiction writer Bruce Sterling is OK. I was intrigued by the writer who said the average atom needs at least one megabyte of data to describe it adequately.

But on the whole, the book disappointed me. A pity.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps the central idea of the Matrix, and one explored in great depth in Haber's work, is the relationship between reality and between perceptions of reality. The protagonists are battling in a Gnostic world---that is, one in which "reality" is what the participants perceive it to be (the workaday world of the early 21st century), rather than the underlying "true" reality, (a distant future in which computers grow humans in pods and harvest their biochemical energy while programming them to accept their cable-fed perceptions as "real"). Haber's contributors discuss everything from the possibility of such a world (how much energy can be harvested from human beings as opposed to the amount of energy necessary to maintain the fictitious "reality") to its desirability (if such a world were possible, wouldn't it be preferable to this one, for many of the world's population currently living in misery?).

For those of us interested in computing and the Internet, these topics are all familiar ones to us: what is the reality of the Internet? Do we spend too much time there, wherever "there" is? What is the impact of computers in our own lives? What should it be? Are we going down a dangerous path ending in a pod or its intellectual or moral equivalent?

For a full review see Interface, Volume 3, Issue 3.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Terrorist or freedom fighter? Reality or just a whiner's view of life? Red Pill or Blue Pill? The Chosen One or a Teenager's wet dream? Explore the Matrix, from the science to the myth, and find out if it is what you thought it was. Great book to read before watching the next two films. Even better to read after them and see how many nails the authors' hit on the head. David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Alan Dean Foster, and Kevin J. Anderson. Young and old masters of the science fiction story. Lets dive into the book and see how THEY see the Matrix.
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