8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that changed the world...
For those of you out there under the age of 30, it may be hard to fathom the impact of Neuromancer and the stories that preceded it (collected in "Burning Chrome"). I really am NOT exaggerating when I tell you they changed the world.
When "Neuromancer" was published, SF was a genre whose time had passed. While some good writers & old masters were laboring in the...
Published on June 12 2003 by L. Alper
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to Explain
Normally I would attempt to explain to plot behind "Neuromancer," but in this case I'm going to skip it. I'm going to make a statement that will make all of you judge me: "I do not understand anything that happens in this book."
Now, I'm no sesquipedalian by any means, but I've been able to decipher some pretty convoluted plots, and understand wording in a variety...
Published on Jan. 16 2004 by MicahA
Most Helpful First | Newest First
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a Novel, not a treatise on the internet revolution.,
The prophetic content of this book is somewhat overrated. It's true Gibson explores cyberspace and lends it depth; but it's neither the cyberspace we know nor an immaculate view of something greater. It's a complex brainchild that sometimes comes across slightly rough, like a low-polygon count computer game. And by today's standards it seems more reminiscent of Tron than of technology's epoch. Neuromancer exudes exactly the optimism in the possibilities of integrated computer networks that spawned all sorts of prospects of cyberpunk futures in the Silicon Valley revolution, right before the bubble burst. Don't look for the future in this book.
Rather, Neuromancer should be approached and appreciated for what it is: excellent Sci-Fi noir. It's the Blade Runner of such novels; with tight narration hinting at a complete and inspired world just beneath the surface. And the early book does a good job of expositing this reality. Its focus deteriorates later on, when the author seems to be straining to convey the enormity of his fantasy world in a still-sensible fashion, and the plot elements spin out of control like overly ambitious anime (another inheritor of the noir/cyberpunk genre).
In the end, it's the characters that redeem it. Molly in particular, seems the most inspired denizen of such a mercenary hyperfuture. And the Rastafarians of Zion and the Dixie construct show Gibson understands that readers' interest in futuristic sci-fi depends on making it as complex and detailed as the present day. Sure, it was ahead of its time, and is now part of the evolution of the genre. But the real reason Neuromancer is worth a look is because it's foremost a story. A very good story.
3.0 out of 5 stars Cyberpunk fashion show,
Neuromancer is seen as a cyberpunk classic, so it's disappointing that I didn't enjoy it more. The IDEAS in this book are more interesting than the book itself, I'm afraid. But I'll give credit where it's due - Gibson innovated the concepts that are behind The Matrix and other science fiction.
Gibson's world is flashy and fashion forward. Boundaries are meaningless as characters zoom around the globe, through space, and leap into virtual reality. They're fitted with implanted lenses and inventive weapons. Described in stylized detail, these settings are Neuromancer's strength.
It takes work to understand what's going on, however. The author throws out foreign and fictional words without explaining what they are. We're expected to deduce their meanings, resulting in some confusion. I don't want to be spoon fed, but with some more explanation I could have enjoyed Neuromancer instead of trying to figure out what was going on.
If this book was written today, I would not have been impressed. However, I'll still recommend Neuromancer because it was far ahead of its time in 1984.
4.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for Internet and Cyberpunk Junkies,
This review is from: Neuromancer (Hardcover)
In Neuromancer, Gibson paints a picture of a society connected by the "Matrix", a vast web of interconnected computer systems. Outside of the computer network, there are areas known as the "Sprawl," areas close to the sprawl and backwoods areas. We meet Case in a bar in one of these backwoods areas.
Case is a hacker (referred to as a cowboy in the novel) who has lost his ability to connect to the matrix as the result of a deal-gone-bad. He is all but down and out, running drugs and other particularly risky transactions; he appears to have a death wish.
Just as he almost bottoms out, he meets Molly and Armitage who claim to be able to restore his ability to access the matrix ... In exchange for doing "a run" for them and their artificial intelligence boss.
The story meticulously weaves scenes from both the real world (as perceived by both Case and Molly) and the Matrix together to form a cohesive story. Though confusing and slow occasionally, Gibson does a masterful job of pulling us into the story. Though you must have some familiarity with computers and sci-fi to completely appreciate the story, it is presented in such a way that it is accessible to techie and neophyte alike.
Neuromancer is all but required reading for anyone interested in the future of the internet or the Cyberpunk genre.
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, but not great.,
Wow, what a disappointment this book turned out to be. Don't get me wrong, it's a solid book but not near the amazing piece of literature I was expecting. I suppose this book started the cyberpunk revolution, but I didn't find him near as "cutting edge" as everyone made him out to be - even taking into account the year it was published.
First, the plot felt like it was "tacked" on so Gibson could show us his, admittedly, good use of imagery (the main character is hired by someone to do a job, but his employer is not quite what he seems - original eh?). Imagery does not a novel make, though, and I've read earlier stuff from many authors (e.g. Harlan Ellison) that had better imagery and even seemed more "punk".
Secondly, although the style was strong, it masked a lack of depth to the characters. The style was reminiscent of dark mystery writing, without the personality of some of the characters in those novels.
Finally, I was surprised how the computer stuff wasn't even that original - even in the year it was published. I believe, however, it did coin some phrases including "matrix".
So why did it sweep all those awards? I suppose because at the time it was published it was viewed as "prophetic" - probably the fact that it got a lot of mainstream attention helped too.
4.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking cyberpunk, wild ride, shallow characters,
It won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, and if I had've read it in '84 I would have been blown away too. As it is I've read enough stuff influenced by what I imagine must have been Gibson's ground breaking style for it not to have been so surprising.
It would have been a double for originality: playing with Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, bio-technological implants - bodies as open slather for drug and neurological tampering ... PLUS ... post-modern characters, not exactly sure what's going on, detached from relationships, not particularly noble, set in a future that's the antithesis to the stereotyped antiseptic, uniform, civilised ones of 50s TV. 'The Matrix', for example, is straight out of this.
So, sure, a B+. He's clever and (was) original.
But it didn't take me right away because I didn't really like any of the pretty much shallow characters. They didn't make me laugh or feel - they don't go any deeper than a novel video game ('Say, watch this cool stunt'). Take away the novelty and there's not a lot there that I enjoyed.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Birth of Cyberpunk and Cyberspace,
This review is from: Neuromancer (Hardcover)
Sometime in Earth's future, Case was a computer cowboy who plugged his mind into cyberspace and navigated the vast network of the world's computers, penetrating any computer's security system for a price. But when he double-crossed his employer, the revenge inflicted robbed Case of his ability to "jack in" to cyberspace ever again. Case went to Chiba City, a center of urban decay where anything could be bought or sold, and acquired a drug habit to replace his addiction to cyberspace. One day a woman named Molly turns up in his "coffin" with a proposition. Molly is a technologically enhanced human with reflective night vision glasses implanted over her eyes and lethal blades beneath her fingernails. She is the muscle for a man named Armitage who wants the use of Case's previous cyber-skills. In return, he will correct Case's neural damage so that he can do the job. First they have to steal a construct of a deceased computer jockey. Then they fly to Istanbul to forcibly collect another member of their team, Peter Riviera, a sleazy character whose neural implants allow him to project subliminal messages into the minds of whomever he chooses. Then the team is off to a space station called Freeside where they will carry out their mission. The plan is to infiltrate the home of the secretive Tessier-Ashpool family, who own one of the world's largest and oldest conglomerates. Tessier-Ashpool is governed by its original family members who rotate in and out of cryogenic state, and by two artificial intelligences. But the purpose of the mission and the identity of their employer are mysterious and may have epic repercussions.
Published in 1984, William Gibson's "Neuromancer" may not have been the first "cyberpunk" novel, but it defined the genre and gave birth to the term. At its most basic, the story of "Neuromancer" is a classic caper plot: a mysterious and imposing character assembles a team of individuals, each with his own talent, to break into a target structure. The characters of "Neuromancer" are, in fact, stock characters in a stock plot. But so are fiction's greatest stories. "Neuromancer"'s choppy, brooding style that tells the story through the experiences of one person, Case, owes a lot to noir detective novels. Dashiell Hammett comes to mind. It is interesting to note that Dashiell Hammett's style was born of alcoholism and urban violence and corruption in the 1930's. "Neuromancer" was born of the urban decay and violence of the 1980's, which was to reach a post-War high within a few years of the novel's publication. And many of "Neuromancer"'s characters are drug addicts. History repeats itself, and it is those qualities that put the "punk" in cyberpunk. As for the "cyber" part, "Neuromancer" introduced us to "cyberspace" and was the first to describe a computer network in terms of a geometric "matrix". Although the technology to "jack in" to computer networks has not yet come to fruition, and who knows if it ever will, the interconnectedness and interdependency of "Neuromancer"'s computers is strikingly similar to the Internet today. I think that "Neuromancer"'s instant cult appeal can be attributed to two things: It makes technology sexy. Molly was one of the first cyberbabes. And she is immediately attracted to Case, who is a geeky, pallid computer hacker. And "Neuromancer" describes a future on the fringes of society where urban alienation and technological alienation have combined to create a sort of existential hell, an idea that reflected the experiences and expectations of a disillusioned Generation X. "Neuromancer" is a science fiction novel that is still appealing and thought-provoking 20 years after it was published. And it's influence on our language and on science fiction in film and print is beyond measure.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book a must read,
Neuromancer is one of those books that after you finish, you are tempted to go back to page one and start reading again. Absolutely fantastic, Gibson takes you on this thrilling adventure in the future with hackers, street samurai, AI, constructs and more. The story grips you from the very start and you will find yourself hard pressed to put it down.
The story in short is about this computer hacker, "cowboy", Case, who is now unable to access the matrix. Having done himself in by messing with the wrong people he can no longer go into cyberspace. As he has desperately looked for a cure for his aliments, he winds up out of money and drugged up, throwing his life away on the rough streets of Night City. Then by chance, comes an opportunity to be cured, having only to perform this one job as payment.
Being new to the Sci-fi genre of books, I was left thoroughly impressed and awed by Gibson's world. He makes the future out to be totally believable. If you are new to Gibson, enjoy Sci-fi, or just looking for a good read, I highly recommend this book.
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing Style for Substance,
From a brief survey of the reviews on this site, people either love this book or hate it. It's a work that leaves little room for ambivalence. Yet that is the reaction that it provokes in me.
Gibson's world is imaginative, his prose taut, his imagery vivid, his attitude a cocky swagger shoved in your face. So what's not to like?
Its very surfeit of style, is what. In fact, there's so much style that it overwhelms the substance. This, I suspect, is what his detractors can't stand. This book is smothered in style, from the various settings all reeking of decay to the punk fashion in the characters' dress to the throw-away jargon and mannered ennui that inform their speech to the staccato fragments that comprise Gibson's prose. Gibson's decision to enthrone style turns this book into the literary equivalent of a high fashion strut. Those who love it admire its flaunt, its poise, its very excess. Those who hate it despise it for the same reasons. Shouldn't science fiction be more intellectual fare?
I suppose it depends on your tolerance for excess. While Gibson overdoses on style, he doesn't vacate substance. His dystopian vision is as disturbing as Brave New World or 1984 (the very year this book was published). Neuromancer cautions us against corporatism, rampant consumerism, the seduction of immortality and the hive mind. It also speculates about artificial intelligence, bio-techno symbiosis, universal information matrices and the nature of reality. Such a substantive collection of themes is nothing to sneer at. But this book doesn't deserve the boatload of awards that it garnered either.
Personally, I have little tolerance for excess. I value restraint over indulgence, introspection over flamboyance. Brilliance shines brightest when freed from artifice. There is brilliance in this book, but it is buried under the mass of all that cool posturing.
Ultimately, this book is worth reading, not least for its numerous firsts. But discerning readers must steel themselves against its cynical, oh-so-hip nihilism.
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful command of the language,
Although he practically invented the genre, the story is typical cyberpunk: computer cowboy in a post-nation-state corporate-controlled world is forced to complete a suspenseful mission--in this case freeing an AI.
But like I said about Pattern Recognition, Gibson's gift is not so much in story-making (although the story here is still great), but in his command of the language. A very apt description of his prose in this book is "mindbending." His descriptions are psychadelic and surreal and unexpected. And his techno-culturally sensitive and clever inventions like the "Turing Police" are delicious.
It is amazing Gibson wrote this book over 20 years ago; it seems so ahead of its time. For one thing, he coined the term "cyberspace" in this book. It is also amazing how much of The Matrix is copied from its pages. And not just subtle concepts, but names like "The Matrix" and "Zion" and whatnot. I hope he's getting some royalties. I wonder if Gibson ever read Nozick and his experience machine?
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, dystopian and kind of confusing...,
Make no mistake, this is a great novel full of interesting concepts (nothing short of incredible when you consider the time it was written), but I feel as though Gibson decided to go nuts with the language. I'm not really sure how else to describe it. He's obviously using a writing technique in which we're not supposed to understand every word he uses the first time he uses it, but he goes a little overboard.
I found the parts where he tries to paint mental images of the various settings particularly difficult to grasp. He uses his expansive pallet of grim adjectives to describe these settings, which is great, but he also likes to throw in all kinds of his own made-up words (as well as Japanese words). This normally wouldn't be a problem, it's just that he does this too often... and never with a clear explanation as to what these words mean; the reader is left to figure it out through every instance these words are used. Although I do admit, I'm not the brightest bulb in the... light... socket? (see what I mean), so I may have been a little late to catch on to these words. This all amounted to me having trouble visualizing some of the settings, as if there were gaping holes in my understanding of what I should be picturing.
However, this is Gibson's first novel, and the introduction to a sort of pseudo-trilogy, so one could argue that the confusing language is done on purpose to set up the complex and erratic nature of Neuromancer's world... and what a world it is! It's sort of post-apocalyptic if you could consider pollution and technology the apocalypse. Hackers and organizations that employ hackers reign over what appears to be near-lawlessness, and the people with the real power are so high up in the hierarchy, it's not entirely clear who they are or what their motifs may be. If you are like me, you'll finish this book not exactly sure of what you just read. You'll feel unstable, as if the book raised more questions than it answered, and you'll be forced to search for the answers in the next two books. Let me assure you, after getting through Neuromancer, the language in Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive won't trip you up as much... partly because Gibson has refined his writing skills, and partly because you will know how to deal with his style.
So if the very term "cyberpunk" makes your spine tingle, you'll definitely need take a trip through Neuromancer.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Neuromancer by William Gibson (Paperback - Jan. 11 2002)
CDN$ 17.00 CDN$ 12.27