Cyberpunk Review » Street: Empathy

March 27, 2008

Street: Empathy

Book Review By: Mr. Roboto

Author: Ryan A. Span

Year: 2008

Category: Cyberpunk Books

Website: Street of Eyes

Street:  Empathy


Reports of cyberpunk’s death in literature are premature. Even now, there are writers who have been inspired to write their vision of a techno-dystopic near future, like Mr. Ryan Span (aka “Winter”). His Street Of Eyes website has the serialized version of this soon-to-be released book, and a second book in progress waiting to appear on the site.

Much of what you would expect in cyberpunk literature is here: Hackers, cybernetic soldiers, polluted planet, grim future… along with a couple of (relatively) new elements like telepathy and nanotechnology thrown into the mix. To say Empathy doesn’t bring much new to the table may not be far from the truth, but that doesn’t seem to be the point of the novel. Many have been inspired by the works of Gibson, Sterling, and company, but don’t have the talent… or balls… to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard these days) and write such works. Ryan Span seems to have the balls to do so, and the talent to make a pretty good story out of it.


The cast of characters. Here now is a brief review of the upcoming dead-tree edition, only with a focus on the main characters to limit spoiling the storyline:

  • Gina: She works the Street of Eyes as a “telepath-for-hire.” To activate her power, though, she uses a drug called “Spice.” The Spice gives Gina the ability to get into people’s heads, but she needs to be careful about the head she connects to; Users of Spice have been known to go insane when they connect to psychos.
  • Bomber: He finds Gina on the Street and brings her to his boss. Before long, we find out that he is more than just some gopher for a wealthy client.
  • Gabriel: The head that Bomber’s boss wants Gina to look into. What she finds there isn’t pretty… but later she falls in love with him.
  • The Emperor: A Triad (Chinese mafia) lord that Bomber has worked with.
  • Jock and Rat: Hackers that work for the Emperor. Jock mostly coordinates operations remotely while Rat does the street work. Rat isn’t what he appears to be…
  • Street of Eyes banner

    Not quite Neuromancer, but definitely worth reading. While cyberpunk fans wait for the next Neuromancer or Blade Runner to get excited about, Street may be something to pique their interest.

    And who knows… in twenty years, somebody may write a cyberpunk novel or film a movie based on Street.


    March 29, 2008

    Hammerjack said:

    So… does this book get a rating? Like on a scale of 1-10?

    March 30, 2008

    Mr. Roboto said:

    Normally, books don’t get ratings like movies and games, but I’d give Empathy a solid 9.

    March 31, 2008

    Telekon said:

    “To activate her power, though, she uses a drug called “Spice.” The Spice gives Gina the ability to get into people’s heads”
    Hum -__o

    “The Spice must flow”

    April 9, 2008

    LeoRivas said:

    “May the SPICE be with you”

    sinewalker said:

    Telekon: indeed. Span cites his reference (sort of) in paragraph 6 of Part 1. Though of course, only us geeks can spot it or would know who the heck Frank Herbet was.

    April 12, 2008

    Ryan A. Span said:

    Hi everyone,

    First of all, thanks for the review and your enthusiasm!

    I’d like to add that the book is now up for sale all over the internets. For those of you who are interested, you can find more info about where to get it at

    Buy a copy or two, and you can help make this a new cyberpunk bestseller! ;)


    January 25, 2009

    dofus kamas said:

    Good piece.

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