Alexander McNabb's Reviews > Neuromancer

Neuromancer by William Gibson
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May 27, 12

Read in May, 2012

I came to this particular party almost thirty years late. But oh, my, what a party it was!

I romped, giggling, through this book. I read it standing up, I read it waiting in the car, I read it when I should have been editing my own work. I devoured it with glee. It's so very well done, you see.

I gave up reading sci-fi decades ago. I can't remember what did it in the end, I think it might have been Frank Herbert's 'Yet another Dune book that milks that last drop from something that used to be better', but sci-fi became not quite my thing.

I'm going back now.

William Gibson's book invented 'cyberpunk' and gave us the setting for films like The Matrix, Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. Cyber-thief Case has had his ability to 'jack in' to the matrix burned out of his cortex by his vengeful employers and is on a fast track to drink, drug and crime fuelled suicide when he's rescued by a mysterious chap called Armitage. Armitage fixes the damage, but he's got a purpose for Case who embarks on a race against time as Armitage complements his repair job with sacs of time-release neurotoxin placed in Case's veins. Do the job fast or get fried is the message. Case and murderous sexbomb Molly (who call a murderous sexbomb 'Molly' for pity's sakes? Only a lunatic or a genius, I figured) embark on a rampage through spaceports and Case gets down and dirty inside the cyber-world of the 3D realised network that is the Matrix.

And oh my, it's fun stuff. That I could be so blown away by this book in 2012 only had me wondering what this did to readers back in 1984. And that Gibson only trips up twice, as far as I could see, is little short of miraculous.

In one scene, Case is fencing a valuable contraband of three megabytes of RAM. Well, I remember in 1984 three meg of RAM was like ten petabytes now. It was a huge amount. We were creating pioneering samplers using an Apple IIe with, wait for it, 64k of memory. My car key's probably got 3 meg in it.

In another, he uses a payphone. Cute.

But that just added to the fun for me, a little like playing a vintage synth that still sounds better than today's smartest sampler. This book is truly a classic and I'm very glad indeed I picked it up in a 'don't know what to put on the Kindle next' random moment.

If you hadn't got the message by now, let me just add I can't recommend it highly enough.
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