REVIEW: Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams


Hardwired cultivates a rare blend of a science fiction dystopia with the action and ruggedness of a classic western. 

Somewhere in the near future, the surface of our world is obliterated by corporate Orbital Blocs, circling Earth high above the atmosphere. Nowadays, these members of the privileged gorge and indulge themselves at the expense of those that survived their massacre and live far below. But there are two of these degenerates that are willing to stand against the Bloc.

A panzerjock and fighter pilot named Cowboy teams up with a cyborg assassin, Sarah. He’s looking for his next big payout. She’s wanting to earn enough money to get herself and her drug-addicted brother out of the slums and up into the realm of the good life. 

The duo journeys across the war-torn American West, engaging in aerial dogfights, driving armored rigs through firestorms, and dealing with corrupt middle men along the way.

Williams’s writing style has a ton of high-charged prose that’s both sleek and beautiful. The technology that he presents is plausible and unique. Cowboy’s interface with his toys via input jacks implanted in his head is one such example, as is Sarah’s secret weapon. I won’t give away that surprise, though.

A couple of things that didn’t work for me in this story were the author’s abrupt changes in points of view and most of the characters beyond the main two were flat and lifeless. Those items aside, this book is a great, fast-paced dive into the genre of cyberpunk.

Released in 1987, several of the ideas presented in Hardwired have stood the test of time. Many of the social issues Williams explored in this work persist today. 

If you’re looking for a gritty, punch-in-the-gut thrill ride through a futuristic wasteland, then this is your book.

REVIEWED BY: Joshua Dyer, Story Pick Editorial Contributor