Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cyberpunk 101

Neuromancer (Sprawl Trilogy, #1)
Neuromancer by William Gibson

"Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding..."

Written more than twenty years ago, Neuromancer by William Gibson is the classic cyberpunk novel that started a new genre of science fiction. It is also notable in that it one all three awards for science fiction writing, the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Award. Our book group discussion of this classic work provided some insight, but no consensus as to the overall appeal or success of the book. For me the book was best in its' demonstration of the power of imagination, bringing such concepts as cyberspace and artificial intelligence to the foreground in science fiction that they continue to have to this day.
It is here that the original concept of the Matrix unfolds like neon origami beneath clusters and constellations of data. Constructs, AIs, live here. Somewhere, concealed by ice, Neuromancer is evolving. As entropy goes into reverse, Molly's surgical implants broadcast trouble from the ferro-concrete geodesic of the Sprawl. Maelcum, Rastafarian in space, is her best hope of rescue. But she and Case, computer cowboy, are busy stealing data from the almighty Megacorps. If the Megacorps don't get them both, perhaps Case will fall prey to the cheap treachery of Linda Lee, someone as lost as himself.
While the plot had complexity and maintained a high level of suspense and excitement, I felt the characters lacked depth and often veered toward a flatness of almost machine-like quality. This may be what the author intended, but it did not make the book a better read. Overall I found this a worthwhile book to read, but will not add it to my list of favorites.

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