Cover to Cover: Neuromancer

Posted: June 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 7 Comments »

I’ve been a fan of science fiction for … well, for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if it was the battered copies of Analog and Asimov’s Science Fiction lying stacked in cardboard boxes at my aunt’s bookstore, or the Foundation set my mom got for me at an early age (there’s Asimov again), or the “aliens attack” movies my dad would sit me down in front of the TV to watch most Sunday afternoons. Whatever it was, it stuck.

I do know, however, that it was my friend Jon who gets credit for introducing me to cyberpunk at a time when it was factory-fresh, crackling with cold fusion-powered energy and William Gibson was already king. (Little did I know I was already years behind.) And with the delivery system he chose, he might as well have hit me with a highly addictive brick: Jon handed me Gibson’s Neuromancer and I never looked back.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the book (and the subsequent novels Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, rounding out the Sprawl trilogy), Neuromancer is the story of Case, a burned-out cyberspace hacker with dead nerves and seemingly no future in Chiba City. The future is a slippery thing, though, and soon Case is hooked up with Molly (a cybernetically enhanced “razorgirl” with ninja skills and mirrorshades implants) and working for ex-military officer Armitage, who promises Case a cure in exchange for his help. That, as they say, is just the beginning.

Some of this might sound a little silly when you’re just reading a description, but Gibson is such a deft and lyrical writer that the reader is drawn in deep with the first page — hell, I was hooked with the very first line. It’s also worth noting a lot of the ideas that might seem old hat now were originally Gibson’s (“cyberspace” is the most used example — the author coined it), and a frighteningly large number of the concepts he came up with are now common, real-life technology. His writing is spare, tough and though-provoking, always with a look to the future even when a book is set in the almost-now, and I can say without hesitation that he is my absolute favorite writer. And while it may seem dated today, the art and design of this particular cover really distills the feel of Neuromancer for me; fractured, high-tech, and still horribly, recognizably human.

If you haven’t read the Sprawl series — or the near-future Bridge trilogy and the sublimely subtle noir of the Bigend trilogy — do yourself a favor and get to it.

See you in the Sprawl.


Cover art: Richard Berry
1988 edition (Ace Books)

Loading Facebook Comments ...

7 Comments on “Cover to Cover: Neuromancer

  1. 1 ericp said at 5:59 pm on June 20th, 2012:

    I bow before the mighty Gibson. My buddy Corey did the same thing for me in high school. Sprawl, Stephenson’s Snow Crash, & some of Orson Scott Card’s work are my holy triumverate of sci-fi.
    An empassioned and fitting review of a masterpiece sir.

  2. 2 Scott S. said at 6:02 pm on June 20th, 2012:

    It’s been ages and ages and ages since I read it. I do remember enjoying it a lot, especially Molly. But I was never inspired to read any more of Gibson’s stuff…

  3. 3 Maxo Romero said at 9:32 pm on June 20th, 2012:

    Eric: “Snow Crash” is on the stack — I’m looking forward to it!

    Scott: I’d definitely recommend the later stuff; both the Bridge and Bigend trilogies are set in the near-future (the Bigend stuff is actually really contemporary) and very different in setting and tone than the Sprawl stuff. Give “Virtual Light” a try, I think you’ll dig it.

  4. 4 jonathan briggs said at 8:57 am on June 21st, 2012:

    Really?! That was me? I totally don’t remember that. I guess I thought we always sorta knew about “Neuromancer” at the same time. I think I actually got MY copy of the book from your aunt’s store. Maybe that’s why I thought that. Anyway, cool, glad you liked it!

  5. 5 jonathan briggs said at 9:01 am on June 21st, 2012:

    Seconds on “Virtual Light,” that’s one of my favorites from Gibson. I keep waiting for someone to invent the mirrored contact lenses he wrote about in that book.

    Some fools at Paramount think they’re gonna make a movie out of “Snow Crash.” Good book and relatively short for Stephenson, but like most of his stuff, it just wore me out after while.

  6. 6 Maxo Romero said at 12:19 pm on June 21st, 2012:

    Jon: That’s the way I remember it — hell, I think the copy I have is the one you gave me (for Christmas, I think?). You actually introduced me to a lot of writers at the time. I almost bought “Dracula in Love” by John Shirley the other day because of you!

    I thought Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon” was pretty good, but damn, it almost broke my skull open. It is deeennnnse.

  7. 7 jon briggs said at 12:26 pm on June 21st, 2012:

    “Cryptonomicon” is the only Stephenson book that’s kept me enthusiastic all the way through, no flagging. Ken liked it so much, he foolishly dove into The Baroque Cycle right afterward. He got halfway thru the second book (which is pretty damn impressive) before he gave out and sank to his knees. We both look at “Reamde” and tremble a little.

    If you ever get a chance to see Stephenson in person, you should go. He’s a really engaging speaker.

Leave a Reply