I might do a separate write up on this at some point, but I’m starting a new thing where I write down some thoughts as soon as I finish a book. This isn’t meant to be any sort of literary criticism or book review, check my goodreads account for that. Here I just want to share things that a book makes me ponder while reading it. Maybe you’ll ponder them too.
Without further ado, here are my three thought’s on William Gibson’s Neuromancer because I just finished it this morning.
Origin of Cyberpunk
This point might be hotly contested, but the book came out 5 years before I was born so I’m allowed to be young and naïve here. I grew up with the internet, my idea of the quintessential sci-fi is The Matrix, and Cyberpunk was always a genre. That was my context when I started reading. So I had to constantly keep reminding myself that none of these things existed in 1984. Gibson’s story was groundbreaking, but if I wasn’t careful, it very quickly turned into cliché. It only seemed like a cliché because everything I grew up on was steeped in this novel, but that didn’t stop me from thinking it. It took me over half the book to shake that context off and appreciate it for what it was at the time.
Judge me on another point here, but I admit that I often read as an escape. I mean, they don’t call it “Fantasy” for nothing. So when I want a book for escaping, I will always reach for fantasy over sci-fi. This book is a classic example of why I make that choice. Fantasy, more often than not, tends to value immersion of the reader into a world of character and plot, which is perfect for an escapist. Sci-fi, however, will often sacrifice immersion for innovation. The world of science fiction is intentionally distant in a way that is much harder to grasp than fantasy. When an author makes up half the words in a sentence to tell me what the character is doing without actually explaining it, I’m not immersed, I’m excluded. Only the author knows what’s going on, and he or she refuses to tell me. I can’t escape into a book like that. I just get annoyed and think they’re trying to sound cool without doing any of the work to prove it (bonus points for those that do, though!).
My favorite aspect of this book was the constant interplay between Case and his puppet master Wintermute. Case and I both knew that the strings are being pulled for him at every stop, and I couldn’t wait to figure out why. This point redeemed the book from my last two thoughts. It was the main reason I finished it. I don’t want to spoil it, though, so I’ll stop writing now.