2007: 88. Neuromancer

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

Neuromancer, William Gibson

This book is the ur-modern science fiction novel, the granddaddy of the way we write now.  It is, quite frankly, and despite my general distaste for sci-fi (especially that with a taste of the dystopian), phenomenal.  The plot is neo-noir and not too, too groundbreaking* but what is just mind-blowing is the world that Gibson has created - particularly considering how primitive technology was then compared to now - I mean, who was doing the web in 1984?  The world he creates is so complex and rich and strange (yet plausible, even now, unlike, say reading 1984) that it takes a while to get into the book - you struggle to understand this alien culture, particularly if, like me, you aren’t really conversant in the language of electronics and steampunk.  It’s worth the effort to understand his strange and mostly believable (though scary!) version of the future.  Only a few small things really stick out as not believable - the notion that a space shuttle would allow smoking made my 2007 brain flinch, but that was about the only real anachronism I noticed - quite a feat for a twenty-year old novel of the future.

The only beef I had was that the book was pretty sexist - I understand that its a neo-noir, but when I compare it to the last noir pastiche I read, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (review to follow), it really emphasizes how the women here are mostly vixens and whores.  Even Molly, the tough bruiser in the book prostitutes herself out in order to get Wolverine like claws under her nails.  That passage, which was supposed to make us feel badly about how she’s been used, only served, for me, to make her seem like an idiot.   Boo.

Recommended for: People who want to read a version of the future that is richer and more fully imagined than you’ve ever seen; people who can overlook sexism and enjoy a rolicking story.

* Though it may have been in 1984 when this book was written - I think that a lot of ideas that we are now familiar with (like say, the entire Matrix trilogy came from this book).

Date/Place Completed:  6/21/07; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017