So what makes the Shadowrun Novels so special? Glad you asked. As I said in my previous post I was really a fantasy book reader prior to reading the first book in the Shadowrun series Never Deal with a Dragon. What made Shadowrun so unique was that it combined Science Fiction with Magic. The premise here is that its 2070 the world has undergone some serious changes. First thing is that corporations have taken over as the major powers in the world. Secondly magic has be reawakened in the world and a process of goblinization has happened with new races being expressed genetically, so now the world has dwarves, orcs, trolls, elves and all sorts of nasties. The American Indians have regained parts of the US as their Shamans regain their strength and the Elves also have taken territory for their own. So the United States is now gone as we know it and really the only thing that spans these new nation states are these huge Multinational Corporations. Each Corporation has its own Security Force (which are basically armies) and their own Archologies in these nation states. In addition to magic technology has reached a point where machine and man are married as well. Cyberware for both computer interaction and for augmentation is rampant and I truly believe that the concept of the Matrix ( 9 years before the Movie ) was invented in these Novels (certainly the more original and well thought out interpretation).

Here is a good description of the Matrix from wikipedia.

The Matrix

Originally, direct neural interface technology enabled humans and metahumans to directly access computers and the Matrix, the global computer network restructured after the 2029 Crash. Access to the Matrix was accomplished by “deckers”: individuals that have cyberdecks which are futuristic equivalent to modern day laptop computers. These interface machines are connected to the brain through a Datajack generally located at the temple or behind the ear. The “deck” would then be plugged into a port that is connected to the Matrix at large. The Matrix was originally based on ideas by William Gibson and the cyberpunk literary genre.

In Shadowrun 4th edition, the Matrix rules have changed, thanks to the setting’s constant evolution and a drive to match real world technological developments. After the second Matrix crash in 2064, Matrix technology was moved away from the wired network and led into a wireless technology. This technology was originally proposed in the early 2060s by Transys Neuronet and Erika, now part of NeoNET.

The most noticeable difference between the Matrix in the 2070s and the earlier editions is the widespread use of wireless technology. Communications and Matrix access is done through a Personal Area Network (PAN), managed through an individual’s Commlink, a combination personal computer/cell phone/PDA/wireless device that hooks into the Matrix through wi-fi nodes placed in every city’s infrastructure.

The other major difference in the Matrix of the 2070s is the use of Augmented Reality, where a person hooked to the Matrix through their Commlink has their vision imprinted (through direct neural implants or special glasses) with the same files and images that one would see on a computer desktop. This allows many users to stay on the Matrix constantly while walking around in normal space (though the traditional full-immersion Virtual Reality is still accessible).

Cyberdecks are obsolete, so “deckers” have once again become “hackers”. In addition, the otaku of previous versions (deckers who did not need decks to access the Matrix) have metamorphed into technomancers, who have an innate connection to the Matrix and are capable of entering into a wireless network with no special equipment.

The use of the term ‘Matrix’ in the Shadowrun game to refer to an immersive virtual world predates its use in the popular feature film The Matrix. In Shadowrun, the Matrix is not a simulation of reality but rather is the global communications and information network that is a successor to the internet.

More to follow…