Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Dr. Adder (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – February 2, 1988
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Signet, 1989. Mass market paperback, 2nd printing. Afterword by Philip K. Dick. 1st in a cyberpunkish trilogy of thematically linked novels. The other books are "The Glass Hammer" (1985) and "Death Arms" (1987).
Top customer reviews
Perhaps Dr. Adder's importance as an early cyberpunk dystopia exceeds its entertainment value. K.W. Jeter wrote it in 1972 while attending college, but it wouldn't be published until the cyberpunk explosion in '84. Because of this, the obsession with technology, the casual violence, the Interface-as-Sprawl et al., are all prescient forebears of some of the themes dominating contemporary sci-fi.*
But is it a great novel? Not really.
E. Allen Limmit is a naive, dumb kid with big dreams. The abandoned son of a brilliant scientist, he hopes to use his heritage as a means of conning millions from the titular doctor, an amoral J.C. for the slums of L.A. He leaves behind his shallow life taking care of a desert brothel, a perverted place dedicated to the quirkiest quirks of sexual desire: Giant, genetically-modified chickens. What he takes with him, and what he hopes will make his millions, is a broken cyber-weapon invented by his deadbeat dad, a laser-firing 'flash glove' (straight out of '70s camp) capable of turning its agent into a weapon of mass destruction.
The self-serving, obnoxious Dr. Adder is a brilliant surgeon specializing in body modification for the prostitutes across L.A.'s slums -- a precursor to Gibson's Sprawl known as the Interface. Adder's a callously evil, uncaring, misogynistic bucket of amorality start to finish, and Limmit's con doesn't quite go as planned, pulling both characters into a battle over the souls (and money) of the Interface with John Mox, Adder's rival and CEO-slash-religious leader of the world's moral authority.
The ultra-violence and gross sexuality still hold up as over-the-top, but it's more quirky cartoon than outright obscene. (Sam Delany also beat these extremes by a few years, writing Hogg -- possibly the most shocking novel of the 20th century -- in 1969. Hogg was similarly held up by its violence and sexuality, unpublished until 1994.) Characters are seemingly driven by a young writer's snark and sadism more-so than individual goals: Limmit is -- much like the hero of Hogg -- an unfeeling, dumb vehicle being pushed around by the plot, barely stopping to form a single thought; Mox is a shadow of evil in religion and capitalism; Adder's, frankly, boring and nearly as dumb as Limmit; all the women are walking sex organs (sometimes quite literally) and vehicles for kinky sleaze.
So Dr. Adder isn't driven by its depth of character, it's not driven by its attacks on consumerism and religion; it's driven, to some degree, by a handful of clever technological ideas (like uploading human consciousness to early computers long before it was passe), but mostly it's driven by its extremes -- and that it shouted those extremes first. Excessive drug use, sex, violence, and misanthropy fill every page (again, much like Hogg), and under all that the snark and self-importance of a young writer. Despite the mountain of excesses, the dystopian streets and sewers of L.A.'s Interface provide a wildly entertaining ride. As the laser-glove is unleashed and a corporate war between Adder and Mox's church heat up, the Interface is hit with a deluge of corpses and gore.
Dr. Adder isn't the great piece of fiction that Neuromancer or Green Eyes would be in 1984, but if you can look past its faults, past the sleaze and ultra-violence, you'll find a fun ride that holds up pretty dang well after 40 years.
Edit: On current (c. 2017) Kindle editions of his books, Jeter has a semi-cool offer on the last few pages: If you review his books, you can e-mail him for an additional free ebook of your choice! I call this offer semi-cool, because when I reached out to him, all I got back was a angry-sounding letter thanking me for reading his books, with a list of condescending rebuttals to my reasons for why his book's only above average. I don't know if the offer was rescinded because he didn't like my review, or if he simply forgot, but he never replied to my followup e-mail...so, uh, yeah. Spoiler: Do not ever call this book cyberpunk, or even 'proto-cyberpunk,' and especially don't comment on how bad the cover-art is for his self-published books.
Most recent customer reviews
First read when I was in my late teens (30 odd years ago) and has influenced my outlook on life ever...Read more