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Book Review: Neuromancer by William Gibson

March 28, 2011 5 comments

Blue book coverSummary:
Billy Case used to be the best cowboy in the matrix–the digital world you plug yourself into.  But then he pissed off the wrong boss who had his neurons fried so he can’t jack in anymore.  Case has been biding his time waiting to die in Japan, until a mysterious woman named Molly shows up.  She’s tricked out with blades that emerge from under her fingernails and sunglasses built into her skull.  She says her boss has a job for Case and will fix his neurons, beginning the adventure of Case’s life.

Review:
This is a good example of how to effectively drop a reader into a completely unfamiliar world and explain nothing and yet have enough make sense for the reader to be invested in the outcome for the characters.  Gibson doesn’t explain much to the reader, and yet what doesn’t make sense eventually clicks into place if the reader is persistent enough in the reading.

The settings vary from a creatively imagined future Japan to a Rastafarian space station to what is essentially Miami in outer space.  They are all immediately engrossing and intriguing.  What led the world to develop this way in Gibson’s imagination?  That is never entirely clear, but that’s part of the fun.  After all, when is it ever entirely clear why the world works out the way it does?

By far the most interesting character is Molly.  Like a Whedon heroine, she kicks ass and takes no names.  She is not just brains or brawn; she is both.  Case pales abundantly in comparison to her, and he knows it.  Although they do hook up, he states that Molly could never really be anyone’s woman.  She is her own.  Molly’s life is incredibly more interesting than Case’s, and perhaps one of the more frustrating parts of the book is that we only get to see of her what Case gets to see.  The book is not about her; it is about Case’s experiences with her.  Yet that is also what makes the book intriguing.  She flits into and out of Case’s life and yet will linger forever in his memory as someone significant.

Of course, I would be remiss to review this classic piece of scifi without mentioning the impact its imaginings of the internet would have.  Obviously there is the matrix and plugging in concepts.  The idea of the internet as something that you participate in in a 3D manner.  The concept of AI as a computer rather than as a robot.  The list goes on and on.  If you’re a scifi fan and have not read this book, you really need to.  It is clear from page one what an impact Gibson has had on the genre.

The plot itself is convoluted and confusing.  I’m still not entirely sure I understand exactly what happened.  Yet I’m also not sure Case understands exactly what happened either.  This is one of the few times I’ve finished a book and instantly wanted to re-read it, hoping to understand it a bit better the second time around.  Yet such a convoluted plot is a bit distracting when there is so much else wonderful going on.  It holds the book back from being superb.

Overall, this piece of classic scifi is an interesting character study and immersion in a different world.  It would be interesting to anyone who enjoys that type of experience in their reading, but is also a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a scifi fanatic.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: SwapTree

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Imminent Arrivals and TBR #2

July 15, 2010 8 comments

The first time I did an Imminent Arrivals and TBR post it turned out to be surprisingly popular with you guys. Yay!  So I decided to continue doing them periodically.

Imminent Arrivals (books with the shortest estimated arrival from PaperBackSwap)

Paintbrush on woman's chest.Top of the queue is Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore.  I honestly have no idea what this book is about, but Jane Kamensky was my advisor for my History major in university.  She mysteriously took a year’s sabbatical and only told us later it was to write this book.  She specializes in US History, particularly women’s roles and colonial New England.  I kind of heart her.  A lot.  She’s a brilliant woman and taught me so much.  How could I not read her book?

Woman in a red dress.Next is Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.  You guys know that I don’t normally do fantasy, but the concept of a woman convicted of murder being offered the choice between immediate death or being the food taster for the Commander of Ixia really struck me.  There’s a lot of room for interesting plot there from the methods and types of poisoning to free will to the original murder.  I’m curious and hopeful this will be a door into fantasy for me.  Or at least a window.

Woman standing in front of a city skyline.Third in line is Deadtown by Nancy Holzner.  It sounds largely like your typical paranormal plot-line (woman must keep people safe from monsters) but it’s set in Boston!  I mean I have to read anything set in Boston that isn’t about the Irish mob.  I get so sick of Boston equating Irish mob in people’s heads.  Anyway, it also appears to feature every type of paranormal creature you can imagine, so it should at least be entertaining.

TBR

Woman's blurry face.I’m trying to dig down to the books that have been in my TBR pile the longest.  First is S by John Updike.  After reading The Witches of Eastwick and enjoying it, I poked around to see what else Updike has written.  I have a weakness for epistolary novels, and this one is a bit unique in that it is set in the 1960s as opposed to the 1800s or some such.  The letters are also from a woman living on a religious commune.  It all sounds rather fascinating, but I’m not sure if I’m in the mood for what could be a slow-paced novel right now.

Woman wearing a glowing necklace.Also sitting on the TBR shelf for a while is Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler.  It was recommended to me by a friend due to my love of Margaret Atwood.  I honestly didn’t even read the summary at the time, just bought it.  Allow me to go look at the blurb.  Ok.  It’s set in the future and is about a woman who is an empath–a person who is crippled by the pain of others.  Ohhh, this sounds really good!

Wires.Finally there’s Neuromancer by William Gibson, which was recommended to me by an IT geek friend of mine.  It’s about a computer cowboy who gets banished from cyberspace (I think it’s fairly obvious that this is set in the future).  Rumors of a movie keep circulating, so I do want to get on this relatively soon.  I just hope it won’t disappoint me the way Feed did (review).

There we have it!  Please tell me what you think, my lovely readers!