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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 29 March 2005
This is a wonderful book - original, packed with ideas and simply crackling with energy and wit. Gibson has documented incredible, wild vision of the (near) future. It is a world of high technology and low life, a world where designer drugs and surgical enhancements are ubiquitous. In writing this book, he created (or at least popularised) a new genre: cyberpunk.
Neuromancer is not perfect. The characterisation is patchy (at best), some of the dialogue is stilted and the plot occasionally meanders but it is a still tremendous piece of work that has stood the test of time quite well.
Note that this is the first part of a trilogy and as such leaves a number of questions hanging. The other parts of the trilogy Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive are also very good and complete the story nicely.
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on 12 September 2006
Like a bullet to the head, Neuromancer (and Gibson) arrived in 1984 to almost universal acclaim and allegedly kick-started the Cyberpunk movement which has influenced certain branches of SF ever since. Whether or not they choose to call their work cyberpunk or not is immaterial. The work of Simon Ings, Grimwood, Chris Moriarty, Michael Swanwick and dozens of others would arguably not have been the same had this novel not been as successful as it was.
The prose is fast, clever, snappy, set against a background of half-working neon in streets where disposable computer equipment is strewn like empty fast food cartons.
Our hero, Case, is a cyber-freelancer, able to jack himself into computer-systems and experience cyberspace as a three dimensional reality. Case, however, tried to steal from one of his more dubious clients who subsequently infected him with a Russian mycotoxin, effectively rendering him incapable of cyberspace work and therefore unemployable. We therefore meet him, down on his luck, and mixing with some rather eccentric characters in a downtown bar in Japan.
For me, it reads like `The Maltese Falcon in Space'. There is a pervasive noir element, since Case - like many a Nineteen-Forties gumshoe - is forced to take on a job, the full details of which he is not fully aware. There's a beautiful and dangerous woman (by the name of Molly) and a mysterious benefactor, as well as a supporting cast of neon-lit lowlife.
Like any classic noir novel, the action and the protagonists move between street level and the crazy billionaire family who are literally `above the clouds', since they live within their own Las Vegas style space station.
It's exciting, challenging, dense with atmosphere, and very much deserves its cult status as a modern classic.
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on 6 September 2006
I don't often foray into sci-fi and certainly not cyberpunk, but I found this fascinating. Not great, definitely not perfect, but intriguing and challenging.

The challenge comes mostly in the jargon-loaded language, but that wasn't half as tough to penetrate as I expected. Simultaneously it also provided the greatest reward - bearing in mind when this book was conceived it displays some fascinating insights and prophecies around the future of technology.

Beyond that, I have a suspicion that the book is not quite as deep as it makes out! Case and Molly are the sort of protagonists that a good book needs; special but flawed. I certainly think an opportunity was missed to deliver more richness to these and other characters, but this will hopefully develop through the trilogy. The story itself is also subservient to the technological vision, but again it does set up the following books.
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on 16 December 1999
Neuromancer is the epitome and the antecedent of all cyberpunk fiction. In fact, it is with this book that Gibson, seemingly quite accidentally, actually coined the term "cyberspace" (not to mention providing the original "matrix"). The characters are vivid and interesting, and the world that they inhabit is just as colourful, in its urbanized, futuristic way. Neuromancer is relatively brief, laudably free of some science fiction writers' tendency to expound verbosely on their philosophy of the future. Even so, Gibson's vision comes out in the writing, perhaps even more effectively. You will finish this book quickly. When you do, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive are just as well paced, continue in the same vein without becoming philosophical, and are refreshingly self-contained for science fiction sequels.
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on 30 December 2007
I have mixed feelings about neuromancer: one one hand, circa 1982 it was such a staggering imaginative feat, conjuring up a breathtakingly close intellectual equivalent to the internet, coining the term and then strikingly predicting the commercialisation of "cyberspace" and it is also such a valiant stylistic effort, amalgamating Chandler's gumshoe noir with Dick's post-modern dystopian sci-fi that you can't help but be totally swept along.

On the other hand it is such a horror-show of a literary artefact, on a technical level so poorly conceived and executed, that it is almost impossible to slog through.

But slog through it I did, after a couple of aborted runs at it, and while I remain impressed at Gibson's conceptual prescience, thanks to his needlessly affected, sub-Burroughs, Beat-for-the-hell-of-it writing style I often had little idea what was going on, much less why, and from my tenuous grasp of the plot, conceptual scheme and literary motivations can't for the life of me fathom what Gibson was trying to make from his portentous ending. The thing is, and unlike many substandard novels of this type, I suspect Gibson did have a coherent point, but he buried under such a thick coating of cod-style it remains forever concealed. In his afterword he pretty much concedes all this (and handily summarises the ending in about two lines!).

There is a real art to successful stylism, evident in someone like James Ellroy whose prose, even though initially forbidding, suddenly "clicks" and carries the reader along enhancing the impression, the images, and the comprehension. Gibson's style, whilst cool, is uneven, obscure, and never manages anything other than to get in the way of a (fairly) good story.

Only fairly good: there are far too many characters, most are introduced arbitrarily and fulfil no particular function other than building the dystopian atmosphere, and even the five or six main ones are poorly drawn, wafer thin, and appear to prescribe little by way of developmental arc (Case, I think, does, but thanks to the vapid style I couldn't tell you what it was).

Reading Neuromancer in the age of the internet puts the story at another disadvantage: we now have the actual internet to compare Gibson's matrix with, and while it is undoubtedly a remarkable previsualistion in many respects, it diverges utterly in others, to the point where it is difficult now to imagine the universe Gibson paints for us.

Hardly Gibson's fault, of course, but an internet arranged in a fixed three-dimensional space seems quaint and fairly pointless when the internet we do know and love is constructed for its infinite flexibility and re-orderability - the data is just there, and you the user can use what tools you like to order and navigate it to your convenience.

They're apparently making a film of Neuromancer: I couldn't help thinking good luck; rather them than me - not only do they have to pare down and disentangle Gibson's contorted prose and plotting, they have to do it more convincingly that the Wachowski brothers did: Their Matrix franchise owes almost as much to Neuromancer as Blade Runner did to Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, and the bits that are different are all marked improvements.

Then again, Neuromancer was a first novel, and on that count alone it is pretty extraordinary.

Olly Buxton
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There is a whole review to be written on how seminal and ahead of its time this novel is, it was after all published in 1984, when the original Macintosh came out with a pokey wee screen, a floppy disk drive in the front, and 128k on RAM memory! Apart from references to cassettes and gold disks, it has not really aged at all.

I had never read it before now, so will just review it for someone reading it now. It joins those books about urban chancers, who cannot be relied on to do the right thing. Authors like Chandler and Deighton, and books like Ubik, and The Stars my Destination. Our dodgy hero goes down some dangerous and weird streets.

The book is consistently impenetrable, at best you sort of know what is going on, and it does seem to follow its own internal logic. The effect is bewildering and intoxicating, like when Moorcock is showing off, or Burroughs is just going insane with the invented words and vices. The sheer impenetrability does diminish the tension, but gives it an edgy rush of its own.

Personally I found that it started to drag a bit by the end. It still reads well, but is perhaps a shade below the very finest science fiction novels.

The Kindle version is no frills, but perfectly serviceable, I only noticed a couple of possible typos.
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on 4 February 2014
This book opens with a clichéd sky description and the writer sometimes makes the mistake of loading too much detail into paragraphs. I also feel he violates the 'show, don't tell' rule on occasion. However, the visual descriptions are excellent and the writer has succeeded in creating an exciting, believable world. It is clear to see why this e-book has sold well and it is worth checking out if you're a fan of the genre.
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on 13 January 2016
My first taste of cyberpunk, and my last. Too much purple prose, it isn't a terrible story, but the author succeeds in confusing the hell out of me, over and over again. In the last few pages, he made sure that he confused me one last time. For some reason, there are brand names mentioned, so when a monitor or something else is mentioned, you are told it's a Sony or Akai or whatever brand it is.

I know that it's part of a trilogy, but the way it ends is weak.

If you like having to work hard to understand some of it, then you might enjoy this, I didn't. I get the feeling that the difficult to understand descriptions made perfect sense in the authors mind, but he didn't think about how the reader might find this. Or he didn't understand some of those parts himself and just threw them in anyway. I was pleased to finish it, Now I want to forget about it.
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on 9 February 2016
I now know why this book is regarded as the pinnacle of modern sci-fi novels. It is fantastic and more complex than ghost in the shell and the matrix (the two movies that were directly influenced by this) granted they are awesome in their own right. I started to hate present day sci-fi movies for their simplicity because of books like this... HELP!
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on 2 May 2001
I came out of "No Maps For These Territories" (the new William Gibson documentary) yesterday and felt the need to buy this book again. I first read "Neuromancer" in 1996 and thought this is totally wild. I later watched "Blade Runner" and "Ghost in the shell" and thought this dude is definitely up there in this sci-fi ish - the future. The characters are real and varied (can you imagine rastas roaming the atmosphere?) - how about a cloned ninja bodyguard for size? It's the realness that grabs you, these are characters you can relate to - the greed, anxiety, hopes, dreams - all in the mix of mind boggling technology. I've always found sci-fi books that deals with alien civilization and other worlds a bit to tedious and this guy's books are like a breath of fresh air - how are we all coping in the face of this technological onslaught? Do we still go wow? Or do we wish for augumented body shells? Blue tooth enabled? I've spent today reading the book and the whole plot remains relevant.
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