Better late than never: a short review of Neuromancer

Neuromancer by William Gibson My rating: 5 of 5 stars (This is a slightly modified version of the review I posted on GoodReads.) This ...

Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1)Neuromancer by William Gibson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(This is a slightly modified version of the review I posted on GoodReads.)

This book will stick with me forever, even though I first read it soon after it was first published, nigh on 30 years ago.

"The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel." I was in Bakka, the SF bookstore in Toronto, and I'd just picked up this oddly named novel - What the heck is a neuromancer? - and opened it up. The first line of this groundbreaking novel wormed its way into my cortex like a rootkit on a poorly maintained web server (even though the web didn't exist back then). I knew that colour of sky-over-water; I'd seen it, but had never seen it just that way. And once I did, I was hooked. I bought the novel and read it in one sitting that day. And I've reread it perhaps a dozen times since, and it has never lost its grip on me.

Maybe because "cyberpunk" wasn't a thing yet, or maybe because it was my first exposure to the genre, or maybe I was just young (if you call mid-20s young) and impressionable, but no other SF has quite managed to impact me as profoundly as Gibson's novel. Not even Dune.

The story focuses on Case, a hacker, and Molly, a cybernetically enhanced bodyguard, as they get wrapped up in the creation of an AI. For all their imperfections and poor judgements, I still wish I actually knew Case and Molly, I wish I could be their friend; as characters, they were that impressive.

The plot is brilliant, weaving you through all manner of social class in Gibson's richly detailed near-future, and an astounding array of imaginative technology, brilliant visions of truly, literally immersive global networks, and a stunning array of body modifications (genetic and otherwise). But the tech isn't the point. What really matters here is the consistency of the world Gibson creates, and of how it follows so logically from how things are today (or at least how they were in the mid-1980s). If SF is about finishing the sentence "If this goes on..." for the sake of understanding the future consequences of our current actions, then Neuromancer is a definitive work.

The language of the novel is crisp and tight and made me think of Hemingway. No, really. The dialogue is perfect and each character has a distinct voice that you will quickly come to recognize.

And, of course, it's the first true cyberpunk novel.

Even though it's a bit dated now in some regards (Gibson himself admitted to having missed "the whole wireless thing"), Neuromancer is a fantastic yet absolutely believable journey through a tomorrow both familiar and alien in turn, guaranteed to make you think about your today in entirely new ways.

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The Trouble with Normal...: Better late than never: a short review of Neuromancer
Better late than never: a short review of Neuromancer
The Trouble with Normal...
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