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Horseless Cowboys

By Sonja Nitschke, editor

Jul 29, 2008: Caveat: I haven’t read all of Street, but I have read all of Year 1: Empathy.

The beginning instantly grabbed me. Crisp, clear, to the point.

I like that.

The story itself starts off strong: we are introduced to Gina, a woman working the Street, and telepathic mind drugs (which I thought was just cool). She takes a job she knows she probably shouldn’t and after that, the action never really lets up.

Along the way, we meet the mysterious Gabriel, hints of ruined cities, ash people, and bullets. Lots of bullets.

I suppose the most off-putting thing about Street Year 1 is the fact that it strongly reminded me of Neuromancer by William Gibson—but I’m not sure if this "echo" isn’t anything more than a genre association. I’m not overly familiar with the cyberpunk genre so I’ll say no more on that front beyond saying that I looked it up on wikipedia before writing this review.

And Street fits the very definition of cyberpunk with its cowboy hackers, AIs, virtual reality (which was deftly described in Street) and the grim, gritty future that is the antithesis of utopia.

I guess I was hoping for a new twist. The Neuromancer association never went away, and that saddens me, because I think that Ryan is a writer who could write good, interesting stories.

My one other complaint is that the characters were rather distant and I found it difficult to relate to them—for me, it felt disconnected. I simply read on because I wanted to find out what happened next. Three dimensional characters are very important to me, but, even though they didn’t feel two dimensional in Street, something was missing for me.

I am basing my star ratings on the strength of the writing, the pacing of the plot, and the depth of the characters. In light of these three criteria, Street Book 1 is a very solid story. This is a revision of my initial star score, which was based too much on my personal preference and not on the other three criteria which are just as important.

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