Reading Neuromancer reminded me of why I stay away from most science fiction. I'll grant him that the futuristic world Gibson invents is amazing. The...moreReading Neuromancer reminded me of why I stay away from most science fiction. I'll grant him that the futuristic world Gibson invents is amazing. The boundaries between people and machine get fuzzy, so that the main character can "plug" himself into a computer network, and even be physically affected by what he does there. Conversely, computers start to (almost) behave like people. But I have a few serious complaints about this novel. First of all, none of the character's motives are very clear. I never understood why Case was willing to fight Wintermute's fight, in other words, why he agreed to be a mercenary. Same with Molly. They both seem caught in a depressing nihilism, and even in the end, after Wintermute and Neuromancer come together, nothing seems to change for them. I also couldn't really take Case's love for Linda Lee seriously. What kind of relationship did they ever have besides he being used to her? He didn't seem that affected even when she died, so why all of a sudden does it matter to him when Wintermute uses her as a facade?
Gibson could have also gone further with the implications of the AI's being released from their shackles. At the end of the novel, Wintermute is untethered. But so what? What changes? Case just goes back to Chiba City and lives the same life he used to live before, and so does the rest of the world. In sum, this novel just seemed like a brain game to me, but nothing that is supposed to mean anything to the author or the reader. (less)
Kolocotronis makes you feel for and care about her characters. They are warm and likable, they speak in an honest, down-to-earth tone that wins you ov...moreKolocotronis makes you feel for and care about her characters. They are warm and likable, they speak in an honest, down-to-earth tone that wins you over. In this first book of her series, you really want Joshua to succeed as a father, a husband, and a Muslim. That does not mean that her novel is without weaknesses. The biggest is that I found the novel too predictable. The characters just about always do what you expect them to. Kolocotronis is really big on dialog, and most of the book is conversation. Much of these conversations sounded a little too “easy” to me – the characters just about always know how they feel and never have any trouble communicating to each other. Unfortunately, real life hardly ever works that way, and I found myself wishing that she would make it harder for them to work things out. Except for Joshua’s failing right before his wedding day, the Muslim characters are a little too perfect. I’m sure Kolocotronis knows that being a Muslim doesn’t automatically mean you’ve conquered your devils. Giving her characters more weaknesses and struggles would have made for a more complex and believable story. There are four more books in the series so perhaps she is able to address some of these issues in the subsequent books she wrote.(less)
I loved this book for all the detailed examples it gives of past societies who collapsed because they destroyed their natural environment. Many of the...moreI loved this book for all the detailed examples it gives of past societies who collapsed because they destroyed their natural environment. Many of the examples are of small, isolated societies, but I don't think that negates his point, as humans have never before been at a point where they've approached a global exhaustion of resources... He talks about larger, more integrated societies too, like rural Montana and China. It's amazing he continues to be an optimist that human beings might turn their behavior around (and he gives a few examples of societies who did just that.) It's a bit of a long read, but he presents his ideas in terms that any layperson can understand. It's still worth reading parts of this book even if you are unable to read all of it.
The biggest immediate impact this book had on me was on my continuing internal debate on whether to have a fourth child or be happy with the three that I have... I'd never taken overpopulation seriously, because I thought excessive consumption was really the main cause of global resource depletion. I still think it's the more important cause, but after reading Diamond's account of the Rwandan genocide, I've started to re-evaluate. He's also made me wonder about the Syrian landscape around me and how dry and treeless it is. Syrians are always talking about how "beautiful" America is and I always thought that was a case of "grass is greener" but after living here, I wonder if it's the mere fact that human impact has had thousands of years to accumulate in the Middle East, with the result that we have lost all our non-cultivated trees?(less)