Neuromancer by William Gibson

This is a classic science fiction novel that created the whole subgenre of cyberpunk. It also won lots of genre awards. It’s a book that I was meaning to read for a long time. It was suddenly referenced referenced in several of my blogs (back when I read it in 2008) so I picked it up.

Published: 1984

Genre: cyberpunk science fiction

Length: 278 pages

Setting: Tokyo and space, near future

Summary: Short version: Case is hired to hack an orbiting satellite for a rival AI

Long version: Case used to be a cybercowboy until he tried to steal from his employers. Now he’s hustling business in Chiba on his way to certain death until he’s plucked from obscurity by Armitage and Molly. Armitage is running the show, but he’s been hired by an AI named Wintermute. Wintermute wants to break out to the next level, but he needs physical help to do that. Wintermute sends the team up to an orbiting satellite and gives them their target in Straylight. Case has to hack his way past the computer defenses. Molly has to break in and get the code to speak to the central core. Twists and turns and problems occur, but the mission is ultimately successful.

Final thoughts: An interesting book, but I had a hard time getting into the world. I don’t know if it was because the world was so foreign (yet set on Earth) or because of the abrupt immersion in the world. I had a hard time really sinking into the book. It also wasn’t quite as mindblowing as I had been lead to believe it would be. Yes, it did spawn a whole subgenre so I guess it was influential, but it’s not going to make any of my top ten lists.

Awards won: Hugo Award in 1985, Nebula Award in 1984, Philip K. Dick Award in 1985

Reading challenges fulfilled: None since this was a book from a previous year

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Filed under Book review

8 responses to “Neuromancer by William Gibson

  1. Although Gibson was influential in “creating” cyberpunk I would not suggested that this novel single-handily did it… there are a lot of other “proto-cyberpunk novels” that are a tad earlier than Gibson’s — for example John Ford’s Web of Angels (1980) and Ted Mooney’s Easy Travel to Other Planets (1981). Gibson’s novel gave the growing subgenre its most distinctive elements though… because of its incredible popularity.

    • And who knows what would have happened if K. W. Jeter’s Dr. Adder (1984) had actually been published WHEN it was completed — 1972….

    • Interesting – Sounds like he gets the credit for all the work others did by putting it together into a popular package.

      • I would disagree with that as well. He solidified, due to the popularity of the text, his take on cyberpunk as the dominate thread of the subsequent works later on….

        Check out SF encyclopedia’s take:

        Clute writes this: “It was not long after the publication of Gibson’s first novel, Neuromancer (1984), that the term began to come into general use, and Neuromancer was the book that definitively shaped our sense of the subgenre to which “cyberpunk” refers.”

      • His work is definitely distinct from that of earlier writers — although they might have touched on the same themes but in different ways… and his formulation became the iconic “SCREAMS CYPERPUNK” book. If that makes sense…

      • And, there were a bunch of influential movies on the genre before Gibson’s book — Bladerunner (1982), Videodrome (1983), etc. which probably could be classified as influential for the aesthetic and feel of cyberpunk as well — although, perhaps not all the themes of Gibson’s text.

      • Now I’m going to need to read more in the genre and see how it all fits together.

  2. To each their own, I guess. Neuromancer is one of my go-to audiobooks when driving. In the edition they are reading from for the audiobook, the author readily admits that there are some aging issues because he got too specific on things that he knew more about in reality, and the technology changed.

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