CLASSIC REVIEW: William Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer’ still prescient

Books - 2015William Gibson’s important science-fiction novel, Neuromancer, still stands as an enjoyable, transfixing and prescient piece of literature, more than 30 years after its original release. The book reads like a Philip K. Dick story, but with its own take on the dystopian future. There are several inventions that are scarily similar to how the world evolved. The book’s explanation of cyberspace and “the matrix” is almost like reading a modern-day account of the proliferation of the Internet and the success of Apple products.

The story is convoluted, and its trippy style may be a detractor for casual readers. I picked up a beat-up copy of the paperback for an easy summer read and was thoroughly engrossed; however, there was plenty of head scratching and a few times where re-reading passages was necessary. After a while, I let the narrative soak in and didn’t worry about keeping up with all of the characters and their outcomes. I immersed myself in Gibson’s created world, and it was a joy ride I might never forget.

The main character is Case, “the best interface cowboy who ever ran in Earth’s computer matrix.” We meet him, down on his luck, taking in his environment and not doing much with life. Rather quickly he meets up with Molly and Armitage, two other main characters, and the cityscape (“Sprawl”) they inhabit comes to life. Case is given an unwilling ultimatum and follows the threat all the way to the end.

Neuromancer is not a traditional page-turner. There are send-offs at the end of each chapter that entice the reader, but it’s a much more methodical read. The romance is somewhat muted, but it proves to be a driving force for Case. The action is fast, but the implications of the plot are deep. There care several times when I went, hey, that sounds eerily familiar. Wait, I’ve heard of this thing the matrix before.

It takes time to realize what Gibson is going after, how Case is proving a larger lesson and what will become of these lost beings in the end. However, the answers to this pondering are worth the 271 pages.

Neuromancer displays Gibson’s mastery of the science-fiction genre, and even in 2015, it deserves to be enjoyed. Reading the text is almost like looking into the future.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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