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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Roussel

Review: Neuromancer by William Gibson

The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel. William Gibson


This a book you'll read because it's THE book. One of these books which is a magnum opus, or the herald of a new idea, or the best illustration of a belief, or the last the author ever wrote. Or all four at once!


In this case, Neuromancer by William Gibson is a pillar of cyberpunk fiction. It's also the first novel to win the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award and the Hugo Award. This is prime science fiction, recognised and lauded by its peers.


Review

All of the above makes it hard to admit, I just couldn't love this book. It was fascinating and created an extraordinary world. I can't fault it for world-building or technology creation or science. It's known as having created the archetypal cyberpunk aesthetic. But for some reason, I couldn't connect with it on an emotional level at all. I genuinely couldn't care for any of the characters, or care about their wants or motivations.


I think there were a couple of reasons for this.


You will - almost certainly - lose your way in this book. Gibson tends to hold back on a lot of explanation and you'll find yourself rereading a couple of pages to see if you missed something. But no. You'll eventually figure out what's going on, but that lack of investment until the plot was regained often led to my eyes skimming the page, which I was sorry for.


A swath of science fiction - particularly hard sci-f - isn't much concerned with story and character. Rather, Neuromancer is more concerned with the creation of technology and vocabulary. And you can't deny, much of the Neuromancer vocabulary has made it into contemporary use.


Rating


I'm glad I read Neuromancer. As I said, this is one of those books you have to read if you're a sci-fi fan, a cyberpunk fan or a writer looking for a guide to world-building. However, I'm a character-driven writer and reader and Neuromancer doesn't have much in that line.


This is a solid Three Stars for me. Glad to have read it and ticked it off my list, but likely wouldn't read it again.

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