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Undoubtedly influencial, but annoying to read
on April 6, 2002
When a book introduces a new sub-genre, it obviously has ideas that are new, fresh, and exciting. However, on hindsight, Neuromancer is flawed in many ways. Clearly the whole cyberpunk genre arose from this book (just look at modern dystopic movies and computer games that borrow liberally from Gibson's language and plot points). For this reason, I would recommend the book. In addition, the story is actually quite good. Although I normally don't like or believe in futures this pessimistic, Gibson gave his world a kind of logic that allows belief.
Unfortunately, he then destroys the credibility at key points in the narrative. It is deeply irritating to me when an author sets up a self-consistent, logical (even scientific) world, and then decides (s)he likes an image or idea so much that it must be included, even if physically/scientifically impossible (Samuel Delany is the worst transgressor of this offense). I found myself rereading a number of passages in disbelief before concluding that yes, Gibson was indeed defying one law of physics while rigorously adhering to others at the same time. In addition, Gibson kept introducing new concepts and words invented from thin air, when there are perfectly acceptable words in use today. Okay, so he's trying to invent a new slang, but nowhere are the new words defined. You learn them from context, but the context may be several chapters away.
Gibson's narrative laziness crops up in his use of pronouns as well - there are passages that are simply incomprehensible because the author refers to all the characters (even those fighting each other) by pronouns. A typical passage would be something like: "She burst into the room just as she was getting up from the table." Is the person bursting into the room and the person getting up from the table the same? And if so, isn't it physically impossible to do both things at the same time? Thus, it was with mounting irritation that I approached the climax to the story.
Therefore, while I can recommend this book on an historical basis, or because it has an interesting plot (and the occasional interesting character), I do so with serious reservations due to the infuriatingly lazy writing style.