Saturday, January 6, 2007

Neuromancer, William Gibson

Title: Neuromancer
Author: William Gibson
Rating: Great!

Blame this one on crystaldearest. Her review at the end of 2006 caused me to decide it was past time to reread this classic. I'd had it on my 2006 reading list but hadn't gotten around to it. Now I have.

In my opinion, Neuromancer continues to be one of the great pieces of science fiction. The plot is complex, the future real, and the characters fascinating. Some of my more recent reading has had me a bit worried. I haven't enjoyed some of the science fiction and fantasy as much as I expected I would. Perhaps, I thought, my tastes are changing. But no, Neuromancer is still every bit as good as it was back in 1984 when it was published.

For those who haven't read it, it's the story of Case (a hacker in today's lingo), Molly (a thug, but what a thug), and a few others as they commit a crime of mind bending proportions. When they are done, something new may come into existence, or they may all be dead.

Of all the characters here I have the most affection for Molly. She's always viewed from the outside - the story is told entirely from Case's perspective - so she's got a bit of mystery to her. And she really is a thug. You wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley, regardless of whose side she (and you) are on. But she's got style, and something else - something that is hard to describe. Perhaps it's a code of ethics, though it's clear that she'll break any rules she wants. Regardless, there is something attractive about Molly, at least to me.

As I say, the story is complex and the future world presented is very real. It's dark, no doubt, but even in that setting Gibson doesn't have us give up hope. He's showing us the worst of the worst - the seedy criminal element and the ultra-rich - without spending a lot of time on the rest of the population. But they're around - called "tourists" mostly - and though the work might be called dystopian, it does have elements of hope.

Something I really appreciate about this novel is that it doesn't descend into fantasy. Gibson writes solid SF here. He doesn't violate the rules he sets up for the world. Some cyberpunk novels wind up with mysterious beings that populate the matrix and can do things outside of it. That's bugged me, but it doesn't happen here. Neuromancer is solid entertainment, very thought provoking, and non-stop action.

So thank you, crystaldearest, for causing me to reread this one. It's still an excellent book. Highly recommended.