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The Cybergypsies Paperback – 4 May 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Thus edition (4 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684819295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684819297
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,322,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Once the Net and the Web were new, and when the adventurous and unwary spent too much time there, flirting with each other in verbal disguise... The story of bad behaviour-- fanaticism about small rows, gender-disguised "Netsex", the spending of other people's money on vast phone-bills--has been told by others--Indra Sinha tells it in a British context where the poverty and uncertainty of the Thatcher era made everything that bit more intense and obsessive. This is also the story of the near-collapse of a marriage--he withdrew from his wife and dragged her off to meet Net chums who never showed up--or showed up and never introduced themselves...These were also the years of his growing political commitment--a highly paid copywriter, he started using his skills for good causes like exposing the use of chemical weapons by Saddam against the Kurds. He writes well about his discomfort his Net friends' games of expensive verbal sado-masochism in the face of real evil. This is a moving and wise book about a man who loved games, and came to feel that he could no longer, in conscience play them; there is real pain here, in his rejection of a sort of beauty. --Roz Kaveney

From the Author

May 4th 1999 - Publication Day
Going through some old papers in my study this morning, I came across the first outline I wrote, back in 1993, for what would become The Cybergypsies. A sketch of the opening, recording a surreal 3 a.m. conversation with Geno Paris, a virus writer in Oklahoma City, quickly dissolves into notes, among which was the following:

"The night is full of invisible pathways, crisscrossing the globe, bounced off the stratosphere by orbiting comsats. They're thronged by clouds of insubstantial travellers, the restless folk who ceaselessly wander the electronic pathways, congregating at this bulletin board, that multi-user game, who you're as likely to bump into at an online party at the WELL in San Francisco as ransacking the archives of an ftp server in Finland...These are the Computer Gypsies, as ragtag a crew as ever roamed the 'real' world we can taste and touch. This is their story..."

In the event it has taken six years for the book to be completed and see the light of day. When I first had the idea of writing about the strange and interesting people I had met in cyberspace, I thought of the book as an expose of a world which few ordinary people dreamed existed. Hardly anyone I knew could say what a modem was. The World Wide Web had only two hundred websites. Our world consisted mainly of multi-user games - some of them on members-only networks, others at the end of private phone lines - and networks of privately owned bulletin boards - the semi-respectable Fidonet, and other nets devoted to unpublicised activities, virus writing, hacking, phreaking. It was a pre-internet world, in which the big companies like British Telecom and Microsoft took little interest. "Old time cybergypsies" - how this phrase made journalist Jason Cowley laugh when he was visiting us last week - look back on this era as a sort of golden age. The explosion of net access meant I had to rethink and focus on the characters. It took me a year after I started writing to work out how to do it.

What evolved was an interweaving of many stories, themes and currents. The book's discontinuous narrative and apparently dsylexic structure is an attempt to convey what cyber experience is like - fractured, hallucinatory, random, full of strange and unexpected juxtapositions - coincidences and what Eve called "noincidences" - blind alleys, fragments of "reality" torn up and flung in your face.


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 April 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book weird, absorbing and very funny. I was almost put off by the title as I don't share most people's fascination with the internet but, alarmingly quickly, I was disturbed to discover that I was beginning to share the author's helpless fascination with the characters he met on the Net, like Calypso - a femme fatale who went on holiday with her husband and three lovers - or Luna, who is so committed to her game persona that she has lost touch with the human who owns her body.
The book is a cleverly constructed multi-layered narrative, accessible because beautifully written but complex enough to repay endless re-reading. It creates a fragile and beautiful world in which the boundaries between fantasy and reality dissolve until real-life characters like Jeffrey Archer and Anita Roddick seem almost weirder than Jarly the computer-virus writer or The Detonator, whose ambition is to hack into a nuclear power-station's computer. The book deals with serious issues like the nature of reality, responsibility, compassion and human rights, and a questioning of most of our assumptions, but it is all done so entertainingly that you could read it just for fun. On the other hand, you might just decide to allow it to change your life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
The Cybergypsies by Indra Sinha is simply wonderfilled. Allegorical, real, non-ordinary, ordinary. Life in a nutshell. Or should that be microchip? Beautifully written, eminently readable. Do yourself a favour and buy a copy. It could be the nicest thing you do for yourself this century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 May 2001
Format: Paperback
'With the turning of a page, one strangles oneself suddenly with the reading of testimonys in extreme cases of the bearable one ... Its work is a kind of UFO literary, as destabilizing in the content as in the form... Pêle-mix, one fall thus on dialogues left straight of the BBS, on pieces of codes exchanged with some hacker, of the sections of life coming from "The Shades", the plays of role where the principal character, Bear, spend most clearly his time (with the risk to run its marriage definitively). Improbable characters are crossed, one goes up in time as one walks in space, and the border between cybernetic dream and "true life" is done increasingly fuzzy...'
Love this book! Found it via the review above when browsing the web. The review, originally in French was translated for me by Google! Irresisistible! And Cybergypsies more than lived up to it!... Enjoy! ...Joel
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cadiva on 19 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Anyone whose ever logged onto an online game, be it Quake, a MMORPG or a text MUD should read this book. It's an exploration of the early days of the internet when it cost an arm and and leg to connect and rattling up a phone bill in the thousands, never mind the hundreds, wasn't difficult.
The reason I love this book so much is because I can recognise not only myself (not literally but figuratively) but a lot of the people I met online back in the 90s.
They're there in the secretive world of the early morning hours when you can't quite find the energy to switch off and so you stay awake talking to people on the other side of the ocean.
Wonderful insight into how you can easily become carried away with something to the point of obsession and how, eventually, you have to make a choice between reality and the beauty of the virtual world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David on 9 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
I agree with all the other reviews here: riveting book, cleverly woven together, rang lots of bells and made lots of connections for me. My only reservation was the blurb on the back and even the title, which to me suggested some sort of quirky, marginal techie subculture - interesting enough to make me look at the book, but what I found within when I read it (couldn't put it down, 400 pages in record time) was much more than this... I did wonder about the author's children (almost invisible in the story)...
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By A Customer on 13 May 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully jumbled book which tells a very human story of addiction. Surprisingly this addiction is to a wonderful world of fantasy characters. Experiences there are interspersed with observations made in reality on personalities that aim to make a difference to the world, be that for good or evil. The style of the book is unique - it seems as if there are almost as many "chapters" as there are pages. The author gathers moments from his life which are connected only in theme, not in space and time. It is not a book for cyber junkies. It is a book for people who are fascinated by those that flirt with the unusual, and the potentially dangerous, in order to understand more of the world.
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By A Customer on 17 May 1999
Format: Paperback
Because of its very nature, The Cybergypsies refuses to be pegged into a slot. The publishers describe it as a non-fiction book. But, I, for one, do not agree. Without resorting to magical realism and word-play (thank God for small mercies), Indra makes the book so mesmerising that it's hard to tell what's real and what's really a figment of the imagination. As a result, he has managed to accomplish the impossible: turn what could have easily been a dull autobiographical memoir into a literary page turner.
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By A Customer on 22 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
The characters and events that Indra Sinha weaves so skilfully and with such humour into this extraordinary work become empirical proof of the power of Imagination and of the "Butterfly Effect". He uses them to demonstrate the interconnectedness of our world and that all our acts, real or imaginary (virtual), have consequences. Cybergypsies is a truly remarkable book that thrilled, shocked and moved me. Highly recommended!
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