Neuromancer shares with other seminal works of fiction, the ability to imagine a new world.  That it merges the dystopinaism of a future cyberworld barely imagined at the time it was written, with jagged, staccato writing and a confusing plot line is to its misfortune, but has not prevented it from becoming one of the touchstones of its genre and for long an underground cult favourite.

The strange thing is, that when one strips away the new vocabulary and the striking visual images, what one is left with is actually a hard boiled detective novel, sharing its literary DNA with the likes of Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe.  Characters such as these almost define modern film noir, and indeed, when we look at our mental images of Neuromancer what we are most commonly drawn to is Japanese anime and Blade Runner.  Gibson himself remarked that Blade Runner came along at the wrong time, because everyone would think he copied from it (he denies that). Other movies like Tron and Dark City are the inheritors of the legacy Gibson left behind, together with the most famous of them: the Matrix.

Neuromancer relates he adventures of Case, a hacker no longer able to hack. It opens in The Chatsubo, a bar in the Night City zone of Chiba City. Case was once a cyberspace cowboy, an exceptionally gifted individual who was able to enter a computerized shared reality, referred to as cyberspace or the matrix, and manipulate the digital world. Cyberspace has many millions of users, but only a select handful have the skill to be able to access any part of the matrix and obtain nearly any data on any system.  Case is hired to enter the matrix and…well, it’s not important, really.  The plot hardly matters except as a clothesline to hang out all the prescient visions Gibson had when imagining our current and future world.

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  One Response to “Neuromancer”

  1. When I was first told that we would be reading Neuromancer, I was very excited to finally be able to read this book. A few years back, I was attending film school in Vancouver. The Matrix had recently hit the theatres, and everyone wanted to make the next similar film. Lots of talk was covered on the origin of the story, and the Wachowski brothers had given some credit to a local Vancouver author named William Gibson. Unfortunately I never did have the time to read this book that so much of the Cyberpunk world had given credit too for help develop, and forgot about it until a couple of months ago.

    I was shocked at how happy I was that I never subjected myself to this story until now. This story had everything that I would look forward into a story – I love when authors create a futuristic world because I like to see what part of human life is destroyed, and what carries us forward. I am a big fan of Animate and the Cyberpunk ideals in stories, and can even admit to owning the role playing game Shadowrun in my younger years. Man vs. Technology and the world that it creates to co-exist.

    Too bad that the story was very loose on character development or for that matter a plot. I found it very confusing that things jumped around without much of an explanation and characters names were being switched and used too freely. The story asked the reader to suspend knowledge about this world for too long without properly explaining what exactly was going on. And that in the end, it just ended – everyone went on their marry way without any reflection.

    Loved the ideas that were created in the book – dark and grungy Neo-Japan world, large corporations and government cover ups, not knowing exactly what happened in the past to cause this world – but in the end it did not translate too well for this reader.

    I do admit that it did take a while to actually start really diving into this story, with lots of fits and starts of a couple of pages at a time before banging out a large section. In the end, I do not count this as its downfall. I am happy to have said to have finally picked this book up and discuss it – almost 10 years removed. That said, I would probably never recommend it to anyone that would not be interested in this type of story.

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