William Gibson is considered one of the Must-Read novels of the cyberpunk sub-genre. In fact, the Internet tells me that this is really the Grandaddy of all cyberpunk novels. It was also the first novel to win the "holy trinity" of science fiction awards: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Philip K. Dick awards.
Case was one of the best cyberspace cowboys, trained by the best. As a thief, though, his mistake was not that he stole from his employers, but that he got caught. He was punished for his offense by having a toxin introduced to his nervous system that made him unable to properly access his console interface, making him unemployable. Since then, he spends his time in the Sprawl, slowly killing himself through substance abuse.
And then he's found by Molly, a hired gun of sorts with retractable claws under her fingernails, like some kind of female Wolverine. They're building a small team for a big job, and they need a hacker to jack into the matrix for them. With the promise of freeing him from the toxin sacs in his system, Case agrees to be their guy. The Tessier-Ashpool dynasty has some AI that's apparently getting a little high on itself, but the closer the team gets to closing in on Wintermute and the program they're after, the closer they all come to being killed.
So, alright. I had heard tons of amazing things about this book, and about the author. When I saw that Neuromancer had won these impressive awards, I was sure that maybe I could not go wrong with it. And okay, yeah, I can see where it became the catalyst of a whole new movement in the science fiction sphere. The gritty, dystopian setting, with its futuristic technology is pretty fascinating, and so much of the book is very visual in nature. This speaks volumes for Gibson's descriptive technique, and I think it would translate magnificently to film with the right production team.
You're waiting for the "but," aren't you? Yeah. There's a "but." I didn't think Neuromancer was bad, but I'm not completely crazy about it, either. I didn't really get attached to any of the characters, even though some of them did pique my interest, like Molly and the Zionists. Even 3Jane and some of the other AI. But for the most part, I just didn't relate to any of them. Mostly, I think I'd have to say that Maelcum, the Zionite seaman, is my favorite. His Rastafarian charm drew me in, and every time he says "I an' I," the linguist in me grinned outwardly and squealed inwardly in pure, geeky delight.
This is also basically a heist story, and I tend to be pretty indifferent to that type of plot in general (with the exception of another popular (albeit closer-to-home) cyber-heist tale, Office Space), so even with the fascinating surroundings, I couldn't get as into it as I really hoped I would. There are also some moments where there is so much going on at once that I had to stop and remind myself of details. Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, because who doesn't like a little action, but it kept me from being able to fully engage in the story; this type of thing may not be a problem for others.
It took me unusually long to finish this book, which, as busy as I've been with classes, is still something of an indicator that I wasn't really feeling it. I'm absolutely going to read more of Gibson's work, but Neuromancer, in the end, wasn't my kind of story. If you're a very tech-savvy type of person, a fan of the Matrix movies, or a fan of cyberpunk in general...I'd recommend this to you if you haven't read it already.
Series Info: What came before this book? What's next?
* Neuromancer (Book 1)
- Count Zero (Book 2)
- Mona Lisa Overdrive (Book 3)
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