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Literature / Hammerjack

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Hackers hunting hackers.

A cyberpunk novel by Marc D. Giller (his debut) published in 2005. In a near future ruled by corporations, Cray Alden is a former hammerjack—or hacker of the computer world known as the Axis—now forced to work as a corporate spook, hunting hammerjacks down. He gets swept up in a war between a corrupt government, and anti-tech terrorists, as a strange infection begins to change his mind and body.

Heavily derivative of William Gibson, with doses of The Matrix and Blade Runner. Reviewers have criticized it for being perhaps a bit too derivative, but it compensates with some smashing action scenes as well as presenting female characters that are better developed than the males (a rarity, for a male cyberpunk author).

Its sequel, Prodigal, was published in 2007.

Tropes in this work:

  • Action Girl: Zoe, Avalon and Lea Prism, introduced in that order
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Lyssa will do anything to be free of her boundaries
  • Ambiguously Gay: Andrew Talbot, depending on your interpretation. Since he gets no physical description we don’t know if he wears a pink shirt or prissy glasses, but we do know that he’s a sassy, sarcastic, humorous friend to Lea.
  • Anti-Hero: Over the course of the two books, Avalon switches sides almost more than Captain Jack Sparrow.
  • Artificial Limbs: After having to amputate one of her arms, Avalon gets fitted with a cybernetic replacement.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Cray Alden According to the Inru, anyway.
  • Audience Surrogate: Both male leads Cray Alden and Nathan Straka have very generic personalities in comparison to the other characters, and neither are given any physical description or even an age.
  • Author Appeal: All of the female characters in the first book have great bodies (justified with Zoe, Avalon and Lea, as they’re action heroines). And all except possibly Avalon spend a good portion of the story either dressed in revealing cloths, acting seductive, or both.
  • Badass Longcoat: Avalon. And, according to the book cover, Cray Alden.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Avalon can extend stealthblades from the wrists of her sensuit.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Corporate Special Services soldiers wear armor with this capability.
  • Chase Scene: Only about every other chapter or so...
  • Cool Shades: Avalon’s eyes were eaten away by the Mons virus, and replaced with cyborg implants, which she covers with onyx glasses.
  • Crapsack World
  • Cyberpunk: Arguably a throwback to classic '80s cyberpunk
  • Decoy Protagonist: Or really, Decoy Love Interest. Zoe, who is introduced as a young sexy action-girl in a black leather suit that "left little to the imagination," and who Alden is on a mission to capture...and she ends up dying in at the end of the first chase scene!
  • The Dragon: Avalon: in the first book for Phao Yin, and in Prodigal for the Inru.
  • Dying as Yourself: Both Lauren Farina and Avalon in "Prodigal."
  • Eat Me: Assimilation version; in Prodigal, Avalon joins the SEF soldiers and asks them to assimilate her into their Hive. She secretly injected herself with Ascension-grade Flash, which is incompatible with the Mons virus used by Hive; trying to assimilate her creates a fatal resonance which kills every member of the Hive.
  • Explosive Leash: In Prodigal, Avalon is fitted with an explosive collar after her capture.
  • Expy: Nathan Straka, the new male lead in Prodigal, is almost identical to Cray Alden in personality (or lack thereof), and is even an ex-hammerjack who works for the government. Lea Prism and Trevor Bostic also fill the roles that Cray Alden and Phao Yin had in the first book, of ex-hammerjack-forced-to-work-for-the-government, and the evil boss. (Though Lea and Trevor's relationship has the extra dimension of Trevor's attraction to her.)
  • Godzilla Threshold: In Hammerjack, the characters repeatedly emphasize that the highly unstable AI Lyssa must never under any circumstances be allowed to escape confinement, as she would cause a data singularity that could destory the whole Axis. In Prodigal, however, the SEF Hive takes over the Axis and prepares to launch nuclear missiles, and Lea decides that releasing Lyssa and crashing the Axis is the least-bad of their options.
  • Goth: Apparently in the future, the Goth subculture will evolve into a violent cult.
  • Head-Turning Beauty If a male character falls in love with—or just comments on the beauty of—a woman in the series, it's Lea.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Zoe, at the very least. Possibly Avalon, as her “dark clothes” could be interpreted as leather (since it’s a cyberpunk story after all). According to the cover of “Prodigal,” Lea Prism.
  • Heroic RRoD: Zoe uses her speedtec to move at superhuman speed, pushing herself so hard that the heat eventually causes her body to literally melt.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Alden’s ascension into the computer world
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Avalon’s body and senses having been largely eaten away by the Mons Virus, so she had to be rebuilt with enhanced reflexes, a “sensesuit” that gives her inhuman senses, and two small lights where her eyes used to be.
  • Human Popsicle: The Assembly, who cryogenically froze their bodies to avoid death by old age but whose minds can still issue orders through virtual reality; and Thanis's team of SEF soldiers on Mars, who entered cryo to stop the progression of the Mons virus and await rescue.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Avelon’s shimmering sensesuit
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Lea slashes Avalon's arm with a poisoned dagger. In order to survive, Avalon amputates the arm before the poison can spread.
  • Meaningful Name: Avalon is mysterious and solitary; in Prodigal, Eve Kelean brings about a sort of "fall of man," when she unleashes the virus on the crew.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cray’s newfound ally Lea Prism just happens to be young, sassy, single, and beautiful. She is forced by circumstances to disguise as a prostitute (twice). Lyssa also likes to take the form of a sultry, seductive babe, for no explained reason.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: When the final terraforming effort on Mars failed, some of the SEF soldiers survived by killing and eating the civilians.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Cray Alden moves through the adventure through almost no choices of his own, at least for the first half or so of the book.
  • Police Are Useless: All the real law enforcement power rests with Corporate Special Services. Civilian police services still exist but are largely irrelevant and only handle matters that CSS considers too unimportant or too unpleasant to bother with themselves.
  • Psycho for Hire: Avalon
  • Punch-Clock Villain:Eve Kellean, in Prodigal.
  • Storming the Castle
  • Terraform: Multiple attempts to terraform Mars are mentioned, all of which failed; the last attempt due to the outbreak of the alien Mons virus.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Avalon. Holly hell, Avalon. Especially when she goes on a rampage against Yoshii Tagura’s gang in the middle of Prodigal.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Cray Alden, whose body is being gradually but irreversibly transformed by the Ascension-grade Flash; and Nathan Straka, who administers himself a massive drug overdose that prevents his brain from being hacked by the SEF Hive but which will be fatal within days.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Pretty much everyone has communications implants in their brains. One of the deadliest hammerjack techniques involves hacking someone's implant and causing it to overload, making the victim's head explode. This is done by both Vortex and Heretic to dispatch enemy soldiers.