When I first read this book there was Myspace and Livejournal, but no Facebook. There was Hotmail and Yahoo mail, but no Gmail. Google was still really kinda new. And smartphones? HA! Hell, I didn’t even have a cell phone for another couple years. I fell in love with what was, now that I think back on it, my first real science fiction novel. It wasn’t all aliens and space wars, this was something different. I had this feeling that I was falling down a rabbit hole, entering this whole new world of writing. I was hooked.
I’m not the only one who has fallen in love with Gibson’s work. The copy I have has blurbs from the Village Voice, New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and (of course) Bruce Sterling. If you haven’t read it, you do yourself a disservice. This is the book where “cyberspace” was coined. This is a book with one of THE BEST opening lines: “The sky above the port was the color of television, turned to a dead channel.” (Kids, go ask your parents what color that was)
The book centers around Case, a data thief. Hacker, if you will. A pretty good one too, until he decides to steal from the people who hired him. Now Case suffers massive nerve damage and he’s unable to connect to cyberspace. His hacking days are over. That is, until a new employer recruits him to do a extra special job.
I feel the best thing about reading this book so long after it was published (1984), is seeing how it stands up. Yes, there are things that date the book, but that’s to be expected. The most amazing thing is how much William Gibson predicted. We have the term “cyberspace” meaning a virtual reality world, not a generalized word for the internet that it’s meaning has morphed into. The world that Case is barred from is, yes, called “The Matrix.” Ever hear the phrase “cyberpunk”? This is its birthplace.
For a book that moved me so much, that turned my world upside down, it’s been way too long since I’ve read it. This weekend, I’m changing that. Neuromancer turned thirty this year; join me in rereading, or experiencing this groundbreaking work for the first time. This way, you’ll be even more excited for Mr. Gibson’s new book coming out later this year.