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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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

Revisiting a classic. This is a massively formative SF novel for me. When I was just getting started, reading the very best that I had heard about or whatnot, I was reading this side by side with Dune or Stranger in a Strange Land, and at different times, I was more WILD for the cyberpunk than any other kind of SF for years.

In my head, it had ALL the promise of bridging our reality with an all-too-plausible future -- which, in fact, we now have. Thugs, massively outfitted private security forces, coffins for living spaces, drugs everywhere, and a metaverse, the matrix itself, to ride tandem with reality.

Case, our antihero, gets roped into a wild heist in a Television Sky, played like a fiddle by WinterMute and Neuromancer, itself. He's the quintessential deck-jocky, hacker, ICE-breaker, pawn.

I'll admit something: In all my years hunting for that one great cyberpunk high, few, if any, ever reached Gibson's imaginative heights. He not only coined the term Cyberspace, but he wrote THIS novel on an old fashioned typewriter. And THAT tells a massive story all by itself.

I can name a few novels as good as this, but Gibson really sells the stage of so many classic animes, cyberpunk authors, tons of crappy b-movies, and the un-ironic backdrop of our modern world. Of course, this novel should have played the role of a cautionary tale, but it IS the end-product of capitalism gone wild. Take THAT as you will.

One thing I want to bring up: for any gamers out there who played and loved Cyberpunk 2077 (probably anyone who used a PC), it should be mentioned that SO MANY themes and plot points and specific worldbuilding was drawn right from Neuromancer, so much so that he should have been listed in the title. We can say the same for its influence on Matrix, too, but I think that's a lesser comparison. Yes, both use the term Matrix interchangeably and there's a lot of hacking, the simulations in Neuromancer are more neon and 80's CG in expression.

Moving on, I also wanted to mention Max Headroom. It came out only a handful of years after this and is very much indebted to it, too. I'm a fanboy of this genre. Call-outs are necessary. As are genuinely awesome near post-cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk titles like Snow Crash.

This book here is REAL history, tho. We see so much of its influence in everything around us and rarely give it the props it needs.

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