This week’s Stack Overflow explores Shadowrun fiction for fans of cyberpunk who aren’t averse to a bit of magic mixed with their technology. Some of these are short enough to enjoy on your lunch breaks while others are more robust reads that will take a few days. We’ll look at reads that range from stand alone novels, to series, and even some anthologies that allow you to get your feet wet before you dive into deep. The world of Shadowrun is an exciting world but it isn’t for the faint of heart.
Shadowrun is a science fantasy world heavily influenced by the writings of William Gibson and Philip K. Dick. It combines genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy, horror and detective fiction. Man, machine, and magic coexist in a world where the amazing is common and technology has seeped in to every facet of daily life. In a world where Mega Corporations have more power than the government, you will meet a diverse cast of characters. They might be Humans, Orks, Trolls, Elves, Dwarves, or even subspecies such as Gnomes, Giants, Minotaur, etc. One thing is certain – industrial espionage runs rampant in this near-future setting. Whether the corporate world admits it or not, it relies on the disposable assets known as Shadowrunners. From Corp exec to underworld mob bosses, to government officials, if you want something done and you don’t want anyone to know you did it – you hire a Shadowrunner.
Ex-Shadowrunner and expert mage Winterhawk thought he’d escaped the shadows but someone wants to drag him back. Set-up, kidnapped, and dosed with a special kind of nastiness that will kill him slowly and painfully he is forced to accept one more contract. to retrieve a person and the magical artifact they posses.
With little time to assemble a team, he’s faced with extracting a person and tracking down a magical item. He may have left the business at the top of his game but now he is as short on contacts as he is on time. He hunts up an old friend, and finds himself making an uneasy peace with a long time rival. With nowhere left to turn, the rag-tag team they put together for him – an annoying decker, a money hungry street samurai, and a suspicious gunslinger – are his best hope of survival. Beggars can’t be choosers when every minute counts.
It’s never a good idea to hide things from your team, but there are things Winterhawk just can’t trust others to understand. To make matters worse someone else is running the same trail and they appear to have more resources. It only takes a single run in to discover that he and his team are an obstacle they plan to removed. With more than just his life at stake, Winterhawke and his the team play a fast-paced game of cat and mouse that takes them from the mean streets of Los Angeles to the savage magic of the Australian Outback. Wading through lies, betrayal, and forced to face his own inner demons, Winterhawk is forced to rely on an apprentice to an ancient magic in order to stop an even more ancient evil.
King is easily one of my favorite authors and one of the people responsible for my cyberpunk addiction. In ‘Borrowed Time’ she does a great job drawing you in to the story from the first pages. You don’t have to know a thing about Shadowrun to enjoy this action packed adventure because King gives you every piece of information you need as you read. She crafts a well-written but fun adventure that includes the diverse characters with distinct personalities. Her plot twists are designed so that you’re never quite sure whom to trust. This book is gateway cyberpunk at it’s best; styled with humor, cleverness, and sardonic wit. It will have you rooting for characters, hating others, and giving some the side-eye. Whether you are familiar with Shadowrun or not, if you like cyberpunk then you are in for an exciting ride through this dystopian world to a satisfying conclusion.
Featuring stories by: Michael A. Stackpole, Jennifer Brozek, Chris A. Jackson, Annie Bellet, Stephen Dedman, Russell Zimmerman, Maxwell Alexander Drake, Steven S. Long, Phaedra Weldon, Aaron Rosenberg, Thomas Gofton, Patrick Goodman, Jean Rabe, Dylan Birtolo, Jason M. Hardy, Malik Toms, R.L. King, Mel Odom.
Eighteen original short stories explore exotic settings far off the beaten path and adventure that range from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, to dating the wrong girl, to discovering family secrets better left undiscovered, to your more traditional basic run gone sideways. Whether you are a veteran Shadowrun fan or new to the world you will find a wide range of adventures in some of the most far-flung, treacherous locations around the world.
This fun collection of lunch time reads requires no knowledge of the Shadowrun Universe. As long as you love cyberpunk and aren’t averse to having a bit of magic in the mix then you are set. This collection includes works by veteran authors and new comers as well.
James or rather “Jimmy” Kincaid can’t catch a break, until he does. An old friend hooks him up with a job. It seems like a simple recovery job. Missing girl with a head full of expensive ware containing important research. Pick her up and bring her back. Before you can order a Whiskey, neat, Kincaid finds himself caught between feuding mega-corporations, a couple of crime families competing for business. Kincaid not about to let the whole place go to hell without cause and he’s go a soft spot for the odd denizens of his little portion of Seattle’s streets. Growing up in the neighborhood pays off, until he discovers exactly who it is that hired him and the lengths she is willing to go through to get this girl back.
Zimmerman does a great job casting this tale in a noir detective atmoshphere without diminishing the cyberpunk feel. Kincaid has the feel of a Bogart style detective who just happens to be an elf, with an ally spirit. He’s a street smart, sarcastic skeptic, with a heart of gold. Zimmerman does an expert job weaving friendship and feeling into the story without bashing you over the head or skimping on the action. High-action, and high-energy; this is one of those read that will make you stay up late to finish the book.
For Katar Hawke it’s about efficency. Executed your jobs swiftly and simply. Involved the least number of people and leave a little mess as possible. That why he grabbed Flicker for this run and no one else.
Unfortunately, when the extraction of a grad student named Rachel from a Central American dig goes sideways, Flicker has to call in some help and Hawke is left trying to sort out who lied and why. To make matters worse. Rachel is carrying an artifact linking their world and a long gone, magical world and it’s chosen her.
This discovery sets off a lethal chain reaction, trapping Hawke and Flicker between feuding mega-corporations and cold-blooded killers who will do anything to get their hands on the artifact and Rachel. Trapped and determine to get answers Hawke and Flicker find themselves facing a decision – sell out Rachel and her artifact or trust her and join a quest that could change the world as they know it.
Losing your job is enough to qualify as a bad day. Finding your uncle who is the closest thing to a dad you’ve ever known dead and dissected on the same day goes far beyond “bad day” and that’s when you find out who your friends are.
If you’re Cody, a kid from the Barrens with synesthesia and a decent magical aptitude then your best friend is a nearly ten foot troll named Dax. That might just keep you alive when you find yourself on the run from some very nasty people convinced that you have something they want.
Cody has no idea what these people want from him, and he has no idea why they think he has it but he knows exactly what they are willing to do to get it. For Cody failure and screwing up has been a way of life but nothing like this. He can’t go to the authorities, and the one person he knew he could trust is dead. He turns to his friends but learns the hard way that some problems require heavy hitters to handle.
Fortunately, he has friends like Dax, Bug, and MiMi, who help him get hooked up with the people he needs. People willing to put their lives on the line for some punk kid on nothing more than a good word put in for him by his friends. Cody doesn’t have any room to screw up now because whatever these guys want from him – people are dying for it.