It’s rare to read a book that makes you want to go out and write. Most of the time, this motivation comes from how terrible a book is. There are instances few and far between where a book is so good that it makes a writer strive to write something half as good.
William Gibson’s Neuromancer is one of the small number of books that fall into that elusive second category.
I can’t succinctly explain why I am so enchanted with this book. It could be that it’s a seamless blend of Sci-Fi and Noir, two genres that are very dear to my heart. This combination is described as “cyberpunk” but I don’t think that really does the blend justice, and Gibson himself has tried to distance himself from the term, so I mention it here with some hesitation. Neuromancer is, at its heart, a thing of its own.
It could be the vivid description of this futuristic Earth in slow decay as people distract themselves with sex, drugs, and the endless sprawl of the matrix (a crazy, immersive version of the internet).
Oh yeah, let me mention that this book was MILES ahead of its time. Neuromancer was published in 1984 and written on a fucking typewriter. Yet Gibson predicts things like widespread use of the internet, body augmentation, and cryogenic storage.
Then there’s the plot. On top of everything else, the reader gets a tight heist/mystery with more than a few twists and turns.
And the characters…I was really blown away with how well rounded they were for a novel that appeared on the surface to be completely driven by plot. And I couldn’t believe how fucking sad I was when everything was over, because things didn’t turn out the way I wanted or expected.
Finally, the writing itself is nothing short of spectacular. Maybe that’s why Neuromancer sports one of the most famous opening lines in the history of modern fiction:
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
I don’t think there’s a better way of setting the scene for the madness and bloodshed the reader is about to witness. All packaged in a simple description of the sky.
Yeah, so I guess I’m done gushing. Neuromancer is an amazing book and everyone should read it. Get it here.