Why Neuromancer is the best book that I didn’t enjoy reading-
Neuromancer by William Gibson was first published in 1984 which is already a culturally significant year for readers of dystopian literature. Neuromancer is also a dystopian novel but not just any ordinary dystopian book. It has since become ‘the archetypal Cyberpunk novel’ and has become a cultural giant that has influenced all that came after it, from the actual invention of cybespace (the term was first popularized by Gibson in Neuromancer)  to movies like the Matrix. Closely following the release of another cyberpunk classic ‘Blade Runner,’ both of them together have defined what the genre is and have influenced the vision of many creators in coming decades.

Neuromancer by William Gibson Review

Neuromancer by William GibsonGenre : Science Fiction , Cyberpunk

So let’s dive in and see why Neuromancer by William Gibson is the best book that I didn’t enjoy reading.The book tells the story of Case, a drug addled cyberspace hacker and Molly, a cybernetically enhanced street samurai as they battle evil mega corporations, powerful AIs and other twisted individuals in what is essentially an elaborate heist story. Only, most of this happens in the Matrix, imaginary constructs and cyberspace projections. Now most of these ideas might today seem vaguely familiar but back when this book came out, it was fantastically original, unheard of and blew everyone’s minds. The concepts explored in the book about humanity and technology and consciousness are still ahead of even our time, even with all movies and media like Blade runner, Matrix and the Ghost in the shell. So a book as influential and original as this and with such a wacky premise, should be a blast to read, right?  Why do I say I didn’t enjoy it?

Because of the prose and the narration. Gibson’s prose is very in media res (you are dropped into this world without any previous explanation) and see the world only through the eyes of Case and Molly. Now I am not against dystopian worlds with in media res narrative as my own book is such an attempt. The problem lies in the fact that Gibson’s prose is constantly dream like, deliberately vague, strange and filled with techno babble that is given no context. The writing is beautiful, mind you, when it makes any damn sense. Most of the time it’s obscure and rarely ever tells you what’s going on in a straight forward manner. I present to you my first piece of evidence

“And the Flatline aligned the nose of Kuang’s sting with the center of the dark below. And dove. Case’s sensory input warped with their velocity. His mouth filled with an aching taste of blue. His eyes were eggs of unstable crystal, vibrating with a frequency whose name was rain and the sounds of trains, suddenly sprouting a humming forest of hair-fine spines. The spines split, bisected, split again, exponential growth under the dome of the Tessier-Ashpool ice.”

Um … okay?

Pages upon pages filled with stuff like this, where you can hardly glean the broad strokes of what is happening. Ladies and Gentleman, this is two characters making love.

“The zipper hung, caught, as he opened the French fatigues, the coils of toothed nylon clotted with salt. He broke it, some tiny metal parts shooting off against the wall of salt-rotten cloth gave, then was in her, effecting the transmission of the old message. Here, even here, in a place he knew for what it was, a coded model of some stranger’s memory, the drive held.”

And to add to there are bits of dialogue that emulate the speech patterns of a different culture

“You listen, Babylon mon,” he said. “I a warrior. But this no m’ fight, no Zion fight, Babylon fightin’ Babylon, eatin’ i’self, ya know? But Jah seh I an’ I t’ bring Steppin’ Razor outa this.” Case blinked. “She a warrior,” Maelcum said, as if it explained everything.

What? Well, okay then. I guess I’ll just move on to the next paragraph.

There are sometimes only a couple of sentences that make sense in entire pages and you have to extrapolate what is happening based on these rare pieces of clarity. Now there’s a reason why I think the book is like this. At William Gibson’s Vietnam war draft hearing –
he honestly informed interviewers that his intention in life was to sample every mind-altering substance in existence.

Now it makes sense. I mean not the book but why it is the way that it is.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of dream sequences and stream of consciousness narrative where things get weird. In fact these are some of my favourite things to write and there are plenty of these in my own books. But when the whole damn book is a trippy fever dream, it gets to you after some time.

There is a certain section towards the end of the book where this otherworldly, dreamy narrative works brilliantly well because of the context and the place where the story is in. It is in these moments that Gibson’s style truly shines. The book’s style is a curious mix of high literary art style and drug fueled trippiness blended with techno-babble. And honestly it works only in certain areas.

If you persevere and  finish the book, you’ll see the plethora of cool ideas and high concepts that it can offer and for this, I think, it’s almost worth it. The book stays with you long after you have finished it and I admire Gibson for what he has achieved and the kind of person he is. The gruelling and frustrating  journey is marked with some wonderful vistas and breath taking milestones along the way and if you are a reader who wants to experience these, you might still give it a try.

In the end, as much as I loved the ideas, Neuromancer is the best book that I didn’t enjoy reading since I as reader was not patient enough or plain simply not high enough to enjoy the journey.

Recommended to :

I would recommend this novel to anyone who would welcome the premise of science in dystopian times. To all the fans of cyberpunk who are looking for an escape from a conventional read.

About the Author :

William Ford Gibson is an American- Canadian writer. He is a speculative fiction writer who is widely known for pioneering the science fiction genre called Cyberpunk. He coined the term cyberspace for the first time in 1982 which became popular in his novel Neoromancer.

He started his career with short stories and moved on to writing 9 critically acclaimed novels. He has collaborated with filmmakers, musicians and various artists and has also contributed in many major publications. His thought has been cited as an influence on science fiction authors, academia, cyberculture, and technology.

7.7

Writing

6.5 /10

Story

8.5 /10

Author

8.0 /10

Pros

  • >> Way ahead of its time
  • >> Beautiful writing

Cons

  • >> Various prose with no context
  • >> Hollow characters (because of not much description)

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