Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1) Neuromancer discussion


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message 1: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jason Neuromancer -

potent social critique

OR

all style and no substance?

Go!


message 2: by Mike (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Literary masterpiece. I win!


Paul Duncan Ditto, Mike.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

William Gibson like invented the internet. I wouldn't call it a literary masterpiece, but I have huge respect for the book. It's staggering to think of the influence this book has in cyberpunk and beyond. In a lot of ways though Neuromancer doesn't far transcend typical genre stuff. All of the characters are somewhat flat and underdeveloped and the plot is kind of hackish.


Sandy all style and no substance


Gavin I agree: all style and no substance.

Fascinating submersion into a dystopic universe of hard characters, controlled manias and a pervading sense of decay in the meat world, but its only in the description. As Elijah pointed out, when you get away from the beautifully rendered details of this techno-anarchistic wet dream the characters are quite two dimensional, and the rushed pace of the plot conveys more a sense of the smash-cut to action than what could have been the development of a human/non-human consciousness antithesis. The icebergs of Flatline and Wintermute remain beneath the surface and, after all, what really was the point of throwing Neuromancer at us if, with all the focus on the energetic balance between self-preservation and self-destruction, the birth of a new consciousness is barely dealt with - even though it is the climax of the novel. Plenty of speed, good visuals, but not enough revelations.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Gibson has his moments of brilliance. I find he really kets out there lookijng at the young new worlds of edistence, interaction, connection. The works is stranger than the character expects, How to sail gracefully through strangenes. World wide art installations shared the Flating through the vagaries of the internet.The Grid, the ice is amazing. So are the characters.

The novel felt so read, so world-weary with being overly cyncial.
It's one of my favorite Gibson novels


Mike I tried read this twice. I couldn't get in to it. Especially in some of the descriptions it triggered no mental visual for me. I felt lost reading this book.


Gary Smith I think it shows how much William G. has grown as a writer. It's an okay book, but his characterizations were much flatter in those days compared to his recent fiction. I think nowadays his ability to make his characters seem real is superb (he deals more with more-or-less-plausible, "20 minutes in the future" tech nowadays as well, which I find as or more interesting, but YMMV).


message 10: by Bob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bob I genuinely love this book- one of my 'go-to' read agains. I don't agree with the 'all style' comments, but I won'ty argue, either.


Patrick Todoroff Considering its content and the context of the genre at the time, I think it was (is?) remarkably prescient.

We have the benefit of hindsight and all that's been built on it after, but the characterization, style, and plot were nothing less than groundbreaking at the time. It remains one of my favorite books.

* Thread-Jack Warning *
Unlike some others, I don't have a problem with his latest novels. They have certainly shifted, become less frenetic and/or bloody, but the themes remain. And I still think his ability to craft sentences borders on nothing less than poetry. I was floored by "Spook Country".


Destructo The Mad Neuromancer changed science fiction like the electric guitar changed music. That said, it's not a fantastic novel. Gibson's genius, and the reason I keep reading him, is that his novels are such a cool place for your mind to hang out in for a few hours. The Sprawl, the Tokyo of Idoru, and the London of Pattern Recognition and Zero History are fascinating.


James Marinero Style and no substance? Maybe. Iconic yes. Visionary - definitely. Isn't that what sci-fi is supposed to be? I don't think that Arthur C Clarke was the greatest writer, but his ideas were terrific. Asimov had it all, though. Interesting that Destructo didn't include Virtual Light in the list.


message 14: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy Just as Marshall McLuhan suggested: the media is the message. The all style and no substance IS the literary genius.

There are two things Gibson does so beautifully that he is tied as my favorite author of all time with Neil Gaiman (another discussion entirely!).

One is that he has constructed a vivid, stylish, fully-realized and extremely plausible society complete with its own mythology.

The other is that he is masterful at constructing extremely lucid descriptions using the least number of words. As a professional writer, I know that's no easy trick. It causes me to stand in awe.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Gibson himself said (in 'No Maps for These Territories') it's a book written by a young man and not something he could write now. Yes, it's a little naive but it set my imagination on fire when I first read it and few books can claim to have started their own subculture!

I agree with Katy - the prose style is fascinating - but it's the ideas that really make it for me. Read it again and see how many things Gibson mentions in passing that other writers would write a full novel about.


message 16: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy Good points, it set my imagination on fire as well and I sucked up the subsequent novels like some delicious nectar I couldn't get enough of.

It's not just the nearly prophetic way he's described future society (how long can *you* go before you're jonesing for the internet?), but he didn't leave anything out. It's not glossy and beautiful, but at times, it could be.

I'd say style-wise Neuromancer was closer to Bladerunner in terms of the level of grit society had become accustomed to. He slams all that into the story as if you already know it, but you can't help but stand there gaping around in awe like a country rube suddenly stuck down on a street in New York.

And the way he wove urban mythology into the story as well... like The Finn and the Spindle and the whole Tessier-Ashpool clone story.


message 17: by Destructo (last edited Jul 07, 2011 05:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Destructo The Mad Not really on topic, but has anyone else noticed that the plots of the Sprawl trilogy (his first 3 novels) have the exact same plot as his latest three novels (the Bigend trilogy)? Shadowy AI/Belgian billionaire sends characters on a quest to find a very cool, and somehow very important, piece of art. What's up with that?


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Katy wrote: "I'd say style-wise Neuromancer was closer to Bladerunner in terms of the level of grit society had become accustomed to."

Gibson said Bladerunner was very close to what he'd imagined the world of Neuromancer would look like!

Destructo wrote: "has anyone else noticed that the plots of the Sprawl trilogy [...] have the exact same plot as his latest three novels [...]? Shadowy AI/Belgian billionaire sends characters on a quest to find a very cool, and somehow very important, piece of art."

The same could be said for the Bridge trilogy, particularly Idoru, too. He seems to enjoy taking us on a search and posing questions along the way. What are we actually looking for? Why does "it" exist? Why are we curious about it? I think this idea is best exemplified in the idea of a "Cool Hunter".


Patrick Todoroff The creation of, and search for "art" is present in some form or another in all his novels.


message 20: by Katy (last edited Jul 08, 2011 03:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy Patrick wrote: "The creation of, and search for "art" is present in some form or another in all his novels."

That brings us back to the "style" issue, I think, and the point of the media IS the message. His novels are about art (most of the time) in a figurative and a literal sense (think Marley and Herr Virek and the boxes, etc.) and in an overall sense, the "style" of the book is artistic.

This is a very compelling discussion. It's leading me to realize that what I once thought was pure, hard cyberpunk is actually really much more art than I originally kind of caught on to. There's definitely a connection between the art of his writing and the stories he tells and the art (or style) he describes, really in everything he's written. And in what ways these societies he describes constitute art itself in a way that few other things can be said to be.


Philip Athans Neuromancer is brilliant. It's one of my ten favorite SF novels of all time:

http://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/...


message 22: by Jay (last edited Nov 24, 2011 05:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay Szpirs Neuromancer is part of a trilogy and the 'substance' of the story emerges over three books. Evaluating the presence or absence of substance in Neuromancer alone is looking at 1/3rd of the story.

Neuromancer is the story of the AI's 'birth', Count Zero centres on its' search for identity/purpose(I think..haven't read it in years...), while Mona Lisa Overdrive places it in conflict.

Neuromancer may not have examined the 'AI as new species' piece fully, but you could likewise criticise Star Wars (1977) for not fully developing the idea of the Force.

Serial story telling is at the heart of the SF tradition and it is unfair to accuse a series of lacking 'substance' without considering the complete story.


Richard forgettable but passing fair while i was reading it. never saw any reason to laud it once i'd finished it though


message 24: by Jim (new) - rated it 1 star

Jim Razinha No style and no substance. Ranks among the absolute worst I've attempted to read. But as it is also one of the few books I could not force myself to finish, I certainly do not see it as literary or a masterpiece.


Christian I will have to vote style but no substance. While I enjoyed this book quite a lot, I don't think it has the heft to be considered social commentary. Also, it read a bit stale when read now. However, he did pioneer the cyberpunk sub-genre.


s.penkevich I feel at the time this was cutting edge and a social critique but now it is more like reading Shakespeare - you read it in the context of when it was written and looking to see how it laid the foundation of much to come. This debate is 20 years too late to be relavent.


Jason Christie I still love it, and try to read it every decade or so, at least. But there was an early terrible audiobook version that still haunts me. I think that's why my girlfriend doesn't care much for it...


message 28: by Jim (new) - rated it 1 star

Jim Razinha André wrote: "Gibson once said that he writes his book in a state of "day-dreaming" - for me, this is what makes his writing so special, apart from all the sophisticated references. it puts you in that special d..."

Wow. That explains a bit. Pretty bizarre daydreams the dude has if he thinks in that nonsense slanguage. For me, it was such an irritant that I decided it wasn't worth the aggravation and it stands as one of the few books I've abandoned in my life.


message 29: by Jason (new) - rated it 1 star

Jason Sci-fi? Check. Punk-ish characters? Check. Corporate assholes? Check. Sleek hardware? Check. Burroughs-style prose? Check. A plot so thin it has one-side to it? Check. New futurist catchphrases/jargon? Check. Mix them in a saute pan over medium heat &--viola!--all style, no substance!


message 30: by Troy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Troy Do we really have to run with the hackneyed style/substance dichotomy? All or nothing? Come on.

We're talking about a book that was written 28 years ago, before there was an internet. I read it when it first came out. The concept was mind-blowing at the time. A new reader today: Meh...

So it's not a character-driven novel--many great ones aren't. Science Fiction is practically a byword for character-deficient. "Rendezvous with Rama" anyone?

I frankly find substance in the prescience of Gibson's world-view: "The sky was the color of television tuned to a dead channel..." Style and substance.


Patrick Todoroff It's a common failing of reviewers to misunderstand the various types of novels: Plot-Driven, Character-Driven, Idea-Driven, Milieu-Driven.

Each one needs to be approached on its merits and judged against it's own kind.

Acknowledged or not, Neuromancer was incredibly prescient and initiated a tectonic shift in the genre. It also contains some of the most remarkable prose in the last 50 years.

All of which may be why it won both the Hugo and Nebula. The fact that we're debating it now tells you something.


message 32: by Cage (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cage first, novels do not have to be "potent social critiques," per se.

second, Gibson was following some kinda weird Loa with the Sprawl Trilogy, and if you wanna catch it's importance, you may need to read thru all of it first, and then it is doubtful one would cast it as "all style and no substance."

third, if you still don't see the sparkle of it, read the book "Burning Chrome," which is something of a Rosetta Stone to the Sprawl Trilogy.


message 33: by A.C. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A.C. Flory Katy wrote: "Just as Marshall McLuhan suggested: the media is the message. The all style and no substance IS the literary genius.

There are two things Gibson does so beautifully that he is tied as my favorite ..."


Yes, yes and YES!


Sandy Patrick wrote: "It's a common failing of reviewers to misunderstand the various types of novels: Plot-Driven, Character-Driven, Idea-Driven, Milieu-Driven.

Each one needs to be approached on its merits and judg..."


I don't read as a literary critic, though. When I read a book, I ask did I enjoy this? Get something out of it? Were the characters well drawn? Did the plot hold together? Did it challenge me? If I'm familiar with a genre I can say, yea, this was better than that or worse than these. But I don't feel a need to be a cyberpunk expert to say I just don't find that this was well-done.


Patrick Todoroff I hear you Sandy, but I'm talking about having a working knowledge of types of books. Nothing wrong with enjoying Character-driven novels, but you need to be aware there are other types, especially if you're going to toss off a review.


message 36: by Jim (new) - rated it 1 star

Jim Razinha Concur with Sandy.

And Patrick, I'll gently suggest that your observation "remarkable prose" is relative and should of course be qualified with "in my opinion." (That's probably what you meant, and may be taken as implied, but I see that my own comment "no style and no substance" was rather absolute, fortunately tempered with the qualifiers at the end of my initial post.) I am one who happens to think it was not remarkable in the traditional acceptance of the phrase, though I admit it was remarkable in that I actually felt the need to remark on it.

I read The Difference Engine recently and was not too impressed, so Gibson's not fairing too well with me. But, if I ever decide to try to read something of Gibson's again, I'll keep in mind Cage's comments (#34 above).


Catherine This is one of my favorite books. I've read it many times and in my opinion it has both style and substance. The style draws you in, the substance keeps you there.


Destructo The Mad Jim wrote: "Concur with Sandy.

I read The Difference Engine recently and was not too impressed, so Gibson's not fairing too well with me. But, if I ever decide to try to read something of Gibson's again, I'll keep in mind Cage's comments (#34 above). "


The Gibson novel that stays with me the most, and that I re-read every 18 months or so is Pattern Recognition. If you want to give Gibson another try, I'd recommend that one. Also, depending on how you define the genre, it isn't a science fiction novel.


message 39: by Ric (last edited Mar 22, 2012 07:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ric To truly appreciate Neuromancer, it helps to read the series of short stories that surround it, contained in the collection Burning Chrome. Especially, meet Molly. description


Christopher Vera Neuromancer is a fascinating book that is in some ways visionary. But I wonder that Gibson's got more writing experience if he would write the book the same way.


message 41: by Marc (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marc Not really a potent social critique at all but neither is it all style and no substance. It is a very entertaining book and pretty much spawned cyberpunk. Style is a very large feature in a majority of cyberpunk writing but not the only one. This book and the genre as a whole would not have continued popularity if it were all style and no substance.


Scribal Patrick wrote: "Considering its content and the context of the genre at the time, I think it was (is?) remarkably prescient. We have the benefit of hindsight and all that's been built on it after, but the charac..."

Agree with all of this. Neuromancer is terribly dated now, but it was written in 1984! I used punchcards on a mainframe in 1981!

His later work has characters of more enduring interest and I love his descriptions and the rhythm of his language--in fact that's what makes him one of my favorite authors, his rhythm.


message 43: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Gibson may have predicted the future, or he may have invented it.

People bitch about the jargon, which sounds like it was made up on the spot. But that's what we did, and still do. Communicating new ideas in English means you invent new words, and somehow everyone you're working with understands them immediately - that's the power of our language. I don't know if Gibson knew that would happen, or just fell overly in love with jargon and got lucky. But it's one of the most fascinating and real parts of the book.

Just keep remembering that when he wrote Neuromancer there were fewer than 1,000 networked computers in the world. He got an amazing amount of stuff right.

Everyone in Neuromancer, including (especially, really) the AI, was trying to feel something. That's the theme. That's why everything is so flat from their perspective.

The man has a gift. I defy anyone to read All Tomorrow's Parties and not have their feelings about wristwatches changed forever.


message 44: by B.F. (new) - rated it 3 stars

B.F. Spath It has one of the best opening lines in the history of literature. Didn't much care for the fetishized violence and punk/hip coldness and sleekness—but I'll admit that the writing is pretty damn good overall. Groundbreaking, certainly, but I'd compare it to Sergeant Pepper: brilliant, but generally a bad influence on a whole generation of bands/books that followed in its wake.


message 45: by Gary (last edited Jun 14, 2012 11:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary Greysonet In all of the commentary I have read about Neuromancer over the years I don't think anyone has ever documented the deepest feature of this novel:

Neuromancer is the story of Case going through the same "cybernetic rehabilitation" program that Corto/Armitage went through!

Reevaluate his experience with this in mind and it's obvious. Neuromancer is an absolute triumph of style and substance! We talk about it frequently in the Erotic SciFi Club.


message 46: by Kurt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kurt Rocourt I enjoyed it but like others have said it's not all that. Plenty of great ideas. And things that eventually happened in our time. But the characters aren't that memorable. Still great as far as imagination goes. For the ideas it inspired its great.


message 47: by Marc (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marc Mitzner For the time it came out, there was nothing like it in Sci Fi - no other comparison. I have read it twice, (the first time the year after it was first published) and though it is not my favorite book (or my favorite that he has written), it is easy to see how this was the jumping off point for all of Gibson's work after this novel, which have been progressively brilliant. Many others were influenced by his style as well.


Peter All this talk about "style over substance" is besides the point The computer is the main character in this book, not Case. What more do you need to know about Case? That he had a puupy when he was growing up? He is simply a man who is deprived from doing what he does best, in a world that is growing colder by the minute, controlled by big business, where the individual grows less and less important. What IS important is information, nd that's what's impotant to Case.


Nottyboy For all the flack that nerds give William Gibson, at least the man can put a sentence together artfully and evocatively; something that these authors that get compared to him in the sales blurbs can't seem to do (I'm looking at Neal Stephenson in particular).


Harpal Singh I enjoyed the book and the sequeals alot, more style.


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