Set in a future where the United States has largely broken down into reluctantly cooperating enclaves run by a wide variety of strongmen and warlords, with a veneer of government control that seems largely interested in controlling technology. Dr. Adder is an artist-surgeon, who modifies sexual organs of his patients to satisfy the weirdest of perversion; he is clearly dep
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Dr. Adder is a brilliant surgeon in the horrible wreck of future Los Angeles, a messianic figure who earns his keep by re-sculpting the various teenage runaways of Orange County into the whores of Los Angeles – amputating and reconfiguring various body parts, wiping away their minds if necessary. This sickeningly sick character is an unrepentant woman-hater and homophobe; he is also the wildly popular and beloved symbol of freedom for both L.A. and the O.C. John Mox is a brillant corporate strat
The novel “Dr. Adder” is perhaps the first cyberpunk novel, being completed in 1972 (although not published until 1984). It certainly has that grim, tarnished, dirty urban feeling that is key to the subgenre. It has the nonchalant violence and misanthropy, the cynicism, the snark; its narrative includes violent corporate interests, casual murder & slaughter, bad-trip imagery, and a strange kind of psychic pre-internet that exists somewhere in between the mind and the electromagnetic static of radio waves & television transmissions. It is certainly a distinctive book: angrily snappy, grimly jokey, gleefully vindictive. An adventure and an excoriation.
I didn’t particularly care for it. I do admire how forward-looking it turned out to be. As a person who lived for many years in So-Cal, I appreciated and shared the equal-opportunity contempt for both Los Angeles and Orange County. (Have there ever been such radically different neighbors?) The novel also has admirable chutzpah when it comes to the sheer imagintion on display – the seedy ‘Rattown’ of L.A., the sewers beneath it, the mind-numbing & hypocritical lifestyle of O.C., the casually bizarre chicken farm, various vividly characterized cast members, a tremendous dream-battle, gruesome & revolting sexuality, a bloodbath on the Interface, even an extraterrestrial Visitor… all quite strikingly stylized, all of these things practically popping off of the page. Jeter has a way with words. Although often lamentably sloppy (particularly in terms of plotline), the man is still a creative and often surprising wordsmith, with ideas that are well ahead of their time and are often fairly sophisticated. He knows how to write a great sentence and he knows how to create savage alternates to our reality. But the constant misanthropy – and, most obnoxiously, the constant misogyny – really began to annoy me. It seemed facile. Like an angry teenager from a cushy middle class background. All of the posturing felt shallow and unearned.
I am not a moral relativist. Sorry. I don’t care what the fookin’ era is all about or if this is just how a particular culture operates… if a specific demographic is demeaned over and over again, in a work of fiction or elsewhere, I am not going to make excuses for it. I may not completely dismiss the piece in question, but I’m not going to overlook bullshit or come up with reasons why it’s not so bad. And so it is with the novel Dr. Adder: fearless, clever, boldly imaginative; the first cyberpunk novel; a sardonic encapsulation of the moral battles & culture wars between counties Orange & Los Angeles; concepts from Burroughs moving about in a world of Sadean cruelty; a deranged & violent sci fi farce; a gushing blood-fountain of excessive, crypto-techno-organic deviance… all that, yes, great… but also constantly WOMAN-HATING. Ugh. You may be ingenious… but still: Fuck Off, novel! Your attitude sucks.