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
4 of 4 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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The matrix is dreaming tonight.,
This is a good book that has the feel of dark eighties SF movies, Akira or Metal Gear Solid. It's all here (AI, street samurai, the matrix, hackers, neon city, drugs, arcades, army type lunatics,...) and Gibson does it better than everybody else.
Gibson is very good in bringing to life strange and exotic (sub)cultures, like the cowboys and razor girls in this novel or the footageheads in 'Pattern Recognition'. The story's no slouch either.
If you're in for a dark SF thriller, you needn't look any further.
2.0 out of 5 stars Historically important, moderately interesting, very difficult to read,
This review is from: Neuromancer (Paperback)
I should preface this review by stating that Gibson's Neuromancer was the first-ever winner of science fiction's so-called triple crown: all three of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K Dick awards. A bit of research suggests that Neuromancer is in fact the only novel to do so, but if you replace the PKD award with a 1st Place Campbell award, only three other novels meet the challenge: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, and Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman.
With all this said, I can state plainly that Neuromancer was not an enjoyable read, and that I disagree with its triple crown status. Let me explain.
The novel tracks the adventures of Case, a computer hacker who's been out of work since he got caught on a botched job. In Gibson's world (keeping in mind this was written in 1984, pre-Internet), the Net is vastly different from our own Internet. Power users such as Case literally jack their minds into the net, experiencing a Tron-like reality complete with glowing cubes for data structures and creeping "Ice"-like structures for computer viruses. After Case's botched job, he was captured by his targets and had his Net-link capabilities destroyed. The main part of the novel begins when Case is recruited by an ex-military officer named Armitage, who promises to restore Case's abilities in exchange for one last job. In the course of the job, Case discovers that Armitage and the job are not what they first appear to be—what initially started as the theft of some computer code turns into an attempt to create a fully-functional AI, led at every step of the way by two lesser instantiations of the AI itself, Wintermute and Neuromancer.
At this point, I've re-read some plot summaries of Neuromancer, and it actually seems like an interesting storyline. The problem? Gibson's writing style makes it nearly impossible to follow the action. Characters appear with no introduction as if they had already been part of the story for several chapters. The setting jumps around from Boston to Japan to Russia to Istanbul to a space station at the L5 Lagrangian point without much notice. The depictions of the Net, while ambitious and probably very vivid for some readers, don't make it easy to visualize what Case is actually doing while he's hacking.
To be honest, the best part of Neuromancer was the end, or rather the epilogue—and I'm not just being facetious here. Without spoiling the motives or the details, the plot to fuse Wintermute and Neuromancer into a superAI is successful, and the new superAI detects in astronomical data from the 1970s the transmissions of another superAI in the Alpha Centauri system. Write *that* novel, Gibson! That sounds far more interesting! Imagine—we make First Contact with an alien civilization, but most of the shots are being called by superAI's on either end. While we deal with the issues of alien contact, we also have to face a growing loss of autonomy to our own superAI, and hope at the same time it decides not to declare war on its alien counterpart.
At the end of the day, Neuromancer was a very difficult and mostly unenjoyable read, but was saved to some degree by a moderately interesting story. Overall, 2 stars.
4.0 out of 5 stars Vacillates between confusion and lucid clarity,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I gained an interest in the 'cyberpunk' genre by first reading Shadowrun novels as a kid (and even some as an adult). So I found it interesting to take a look at the book that begun to define the parameters of the cyberpunk genre. And in fact it influenced the meanings and definitions of 'cyberization' before these things even started becoming mainstream and Gibson's terms have already proliferated and become a part of modern culture. You can look at a lot of old scifi and laugh at how silly it is, but this book seems nearly as relevant today as it was when it was written (in the 80's). So lets dive into the book itself.
The book starts out very slick. 'The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel'.
In my opinion, the best poetry possesses the ability to express feelings, visuals and nuances which cannot simply be described by plain exposition, recreating in the readers mind the picture and thus the thousand words that describe that picture. For this, Gibson does a good job, his style is very visual like that. The inner narrative is important but the visuals themselves are described in a way that no amount of pictures can do justice, there are just too many nuances to notice, and Gibsons nuances of description form a very important part of the reader's ability to build the world around Case (the protagonist).
The first act of the book is the best in my opinion. The world building is simply outstanding, the text and prose is clear. It feels as you (through the eyes of the protagonist, Case) are on the streets of a night and future society, being hunted. The clarity is occasionally broken by moments of franticness and bursts of activity which shatter the clarity, but these are very stylistic and I believe put you into the mindset of Case himself. And honestly, after reading the first act this was easily shaping up to being one of the best books i've ever read.
The second act is where things start to lull. The purpose of the second act it seems is to expound on things, to take that international adventure as a type of 'secret agent', but it lacks the visual power and worldbuilding of the first act. However it still advances the story in a critical way.
The final act is long and at times confusing. I believe Gibson explains the story well enough, however I've occasionally felt a sense of disorientation that I don't think was meant to be there. The ending is not as satisfying or clear as I wouldve hoped.
However, all throughout, Gibson does a great job of writing very visually. If you are a fan of cyberpunk or want to see what the genre is about, then definitely read this book -- it's very unique and definitely a piece of history, maybe even enough to be considered 'literature'.
4.0 out of 5 stars Vast, jacked-in fantasy,
It is my understanding that Gibson coined the term "cyberspace"-and very beautifully. When I dream of cyberspace realities, I can not help but invoke fragments of William Gibson's vast, jacked-in hallucination-what you might call "virtual reality".
There was one more component to William Gibson's cyberspace-that of the spiritual-and these segments are quite beautiful.
I'm giving this book 4 "Amazon" stars because I think Gibson's "Count Zero" is even better--especially the references surrounding the artist Joseph Cornell. One can't nitpick a classic such as this--too much--although some aspects of the adolescent "cyberpunk" content are difficult to reconcile in maturity--regardless, I can acknowledge the need for these significant concepts to be made available via an accessible pubescent perspective.
This book left me craving more Gibson "cyberpunk"--and there's not much to be found. I've read Gibon's short stories--not bad. I couldn't get into "The Difference Engine" or "All Tomorrow's Parties"... I'm not feeling "Pattern Recognition" in the store either, but his blog has piqued my curiousity. I want Gibson to bring the world to its knees, in tears. Pretty please?
To discuss the book--if it's allowed by Amazon, hit me up on AIM/Yahoo "yesiliveinaustin"
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.
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.
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Neuromancer by William Gibson (Paperback - July 1 2000)
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