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Exploring the Matrix: Visions of the Cyber Present Hardcover – May 2, 2003
Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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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.
- 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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
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. You'll find yourself wanting to continue the
discussion -- "Well, yes, but what about..." or "Oh no! I have to
Paul DiFillippo's essay on literary influences solidly connects
everything and everyone from the Bible, Blake, and Baum to Michael
Moorcock and Neil Gaiman. Haber considers the black joke that the
high-tech sfx movie is profoundly anti-science. Alan Dean Foster
proves that the movie's true meaning is that nerdy geeks can triumph.
Ian Watson's essay connects THE MATRIX to French social theorist Jean
Baudrillard and convincingly argues it should be seen as a superhero
movie exploiting, rather than exemplifying, cyberpunk themes. John
Shirley seems to be the only writer to recognize "the group of films
galvanized by the same furnace of fermenting realization" along with
THE MATRIX. Rick Berry writes on the ancient past of CGI and
expresses refreshing optimism about cyberspace.
The essays are accompanied by the magnificent art of Darrel Anderson
(who also supplies an essay) and Robert Zahrab (which, sadly I could
get only an impression of since I have the galley and not the
finished product) and spiffy design. A must-read for the film's fans,
EXPLORING THE MATRIX it's highly recommended reading for science
fiction buffs as well. -- Paula Guran
If you like the Matrix this is a good book but don't complain about sidetracking to other topics of interest, because that is what this book does.