by William Gibson
Allow me to expound upon this… Imagine that you, for a brief moment, are Case (the main hero/anti-hero of the book).
A burnt-out shell of a man living within a burnt-out shell of civilization. You “live”, if that’s what you can call it, day to day, haunted and pursued by the memories of who you WERE and what you COULD HAVE BEEN. Your talent, your identity and your soul has been stripped away — all because you took one wrong step. No longer able to jack-in to the matrix and feel your consciousness freed from your fleshy prison. No longer able to cut through Cyberspace with the precision of a surgeon and intensity of a kamikaze. You are a nobody, a drug-addicted fixer with a death wish. No longer caring; slowly suffocating in a world filled with the jackals and parasites of humanity, who are ready to feast on your corpse the minute you fall. You don’t even carry a weapon anymore… You have given up and are in many ways already dead. All that remains is for someone to kill the “meat”…
What more is there to say? This IS it!! You know who Case is because you, the reader, can FEEL it. That is the magic of Gibson’s writing. He doesn’t go into the intimate details of Case’s torture in Memphis because there is no need to. Just as there is no need to encapsulate the characters in neat little packages and paint them in bright technicolor, making them “easy to swallow” for the reader. They are bleak and minimal just as the world they live in is bleak and minimal.
Just as some of the most frightening horror films are the ones that don’t show the gore — leaving it up to the viewer to imagine (which is often far more gruesome), so too does Gibson leave you with just enough so that you can feel the consuming emptiness of his characters.
In addition to this, Gibson does a fantastic job with the plot of the book. At times it is a head-first dive at a hundred miles an hour, and other times is crawls with the primal anticipation and potential energy of a spider, slowly descending upon the prey within its web. This plot isn’t made for “Short-Attention-Span-Theatre”, and only those suffering from Attention Defect Disorder or expecting this book to be a Cyberpunk module (often the same people) need fear it.
The characters are driven by forces that are often as ambiguous as there own nature, and this tactic is perfect in capturing the essence of the book. Gibson doesn’t bore the reader with 200 extra pages to “define” why the characters act as they do. Instead he hints at it through their personalities, sparse backgrounds and conversations. The essence of who they are and why they do what they do seeps slowly into the reader’s skin through the term that is Gibson.
That is what makes this book a classic on so many levels. The reader is just another character along for the ride instead of being forced into omnipotence.
BEWARE OF OTHER REVIEWS BY PEOPLE WHO DON”T HAVE THE FACTS STRAIGHT!!!
Gibson stated that he knew nothing about computers or the internet before he wrote NEUROMANCER. While some have said that “this certainly shows” in his writing, these short-sighted individuals have failed to realize that barely any of this technology existed at the time. Almost NO ONE knew anything about it!!
Secondly, people have criticized Gibson’s status as a “visionary”. Here too, these individuals don’t comprehend that this title was not self-proclaimed. It has been the result of 20/20 hindsight vision from a late 80′s to late 90′s perspective! This book was written in 1984!! Cut the guy some slack!!! He never claimed to “predict the future”, but his future is a dark possibility rooted in our own present. That is the essense of his foresight into the fusion of advanced technologies and the corrupting nature of humanity.
Finally, one person who reviewed this book on Amazon.com claimed that the only reason this book got published was because of Gibson’s “name” and his prestige as a writer. This was his first book!! Obviously that isn’t a likely scenario. The reason it was published can be ascertained by reading the first sentence of the book!
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
To any one who is a serious science fiction reader, or any one who has ever wanted to pick up just one book to get the feel of the genre — READ THIS BOOK. It IS a classic, and I feel that it will only get better with each read…