Science Fiction Book Review


Matrix Warrior

Matrix Warrior (2003) Jake Horsley, Gollancz, 6.99, hdbk, 232pp, ISBN 0-575-07527-9

This is one of the most delightfully silly and highly amusing media tie-ins that it has ever been my pleasure to read. This book takes the film The Matrix as a prime example of one of the "myths-of-our-time" and goes on to explore various philosophical questions in light of what it says, adding in a generous dose of Philip K Dick and Carlos Castenada. Horsley's tongue is so far in his cheek that he's blowing raspberries at his own tonsils, and I can only imagine the fun he had writing this. His examination of solipsistic cool slides through existential nausea into outright psychopathy and back again with a wink and a grin. Especially humorous sections include: 'Reality as a Snare: Postmodernist 21st Century Fragmentation', 'Rules of Empowerment: DIY Unplugging', 'Life in the Matrix: Appropriate Responses to Illusory Stimuli', and 'The Nightmare of History: Information Age and Eschaton'. Which is not to say that it is unfair to its own subject matter - this book is certainly a recognition of the excellence of the movie - and it is a rigorous examination of personal philosophy, given that you accept the premise that we are more than mere flesh and 'reality' is an illusion based on sensory perception. I doubt there's any possibility that this book will be taken too seriously, certainly not by philosophers, but there is a danger that the book will outrage those who do not get that this is, first and foremost, a gag (and a very good gag too). I'm not sure who to recommend this book to. Fans of the film, certainly; SF fans generally, possibly; personally I'd like to see it on the reading list for Philosophy students (and I'm not kidding!) who might find it will help them explore some well-known concepts in a less 'dry and dusty' fashion than standard texts. Great fun!

Tony Chester


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