This novel, published in 1984, is often credited with defining cyberspace and the internet that followed. Anyone expecting finding a world that they recognise will not find it here, this afterall was a glance into a future that has not yet come to be.
At times fast paced and inspiring, at others a little frustrating and not as fluid as it could be. This is a novel that has impacted upon a generation of books and indeed movies. You will be richer for reading it.
I was left with very mixed feelings about this book - Philip K Dick meets Quentin Tarantino. It was written in the early 1980's and is clearly creative, visionary and ahead of its time in the concepts and contents. Personally I think it has aged pretty well, and has proved to be prescient for concepts such as cyberspace and virtual reality. One can easily see how it has created the ideas found in The Matrix series. Why just 2-stars then? Well, unfortunately its echoes are found in the Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, rather than the original film which was excellent. Like the two sequels this book slides into incomprehensibility. The virtual reality concepts are overwhelmed by the constant repetition of obscure jargon, and an extremely opaque and confusing writing style. The first section of the book opens in a Tokyo suburb and the constant overuse of Japanese terms quickly becomes annoying. Characters are quickly introduced, and just as quickly disappear, with some very messy action scenes and dialogue. I assume the writer is being deliberately obscure in narrating what is actually going on for some sort of effect. Rather than atmospheric, I quickly found this highly annoying. If anything the plot becomes increasingly opaque, and the motivation and allegiances of the characters remaining obscure. Despite the fact I actually read the book carefully, I think parts of the plot (such as the machinations of the Ashpool family and what actually transpired at the Villa Straylight) partially eluded me. However, by this point I'd stopped caring and just wanted to finish it. I'm glad I read it, because of its place in the Sci-Fi genre, but I'm certainly not tempted to reach for another Gibson. I can't help thinking this would have been better in the hands of a more competent writer, or at least one adopting a style designed to engage rather than completely baffle the reader!
The concepts of cyberspace and virtual reality are used to add a fresh (and integral) layer of the storyline. I liked this book - I have named my new computer Wintermute - but if you take your eye off the plot for a minute it's easy to get lost!