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458 of 479 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Past Page 25 ...
Adapted from ISawLightningFall.blogspot.com

The first time I tried to read Neuromancer, I stopped around page 25.

I was about 15 years old and I'd heard it was a classic, a must-read from 1984. So I picked it up and I plowed through the first chapter, scratching my head the whole time. Then I shoved it onto my bookshelf, where it was quickly...
Published on January 30, 2008 by Loren Eaton

versus
56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the classic it's made out to be
I get the feeling that Neuromancer won the awards and the popularity it did more because of the ideas it presents and its overladen prose than because of a good story or deep characters. Yes, it 'started cyberpunk', and the gritty yet slick setting does have a sense of depth and life.
Unfortunately, it's heavily burdened by prose that has a tendency to blur your...
Published on April 1, 2004 by R. Seehausen


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458 of 479 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Past Page 25 ..., January 30, 2008
This review is from: Neuromancer (Hardcover)
Adapted from ISawLightningFall.blogspot.com

The first time I tried to read Neuromancer, I stopped around page 25.

I was about 15 years old and I'd heard it was a classic, a must-read from 1984. So I picked it up and I plowed through the first chapter, scratching my head the whole time. Then I shoved it onto my bookshelf, where it was quickly forgotten. It was a dense, multilayered read, requiring more effort than a hormone-addled adolescent wanted to give. But few years later, I pulled the book down and gave it another chance. This time, William Gibson's dystopic rabbit hole swallowed me whole.

Neuromancer is basically a futuristic crime caper. The main character is Case, a burnt-out hacker, a cyberthief. When the book opens, a disgruntled employer has irrevocably destroyed parts of his nervous system with a mycotoxin, meaning he can't jack into the matrix, an abstract representation of earth's computer network. Then he receives a suspiciously sweet offer: A mysterious employer will fix him up if he'll sign on for a special job. He cautiously agrees and finds himself joined by a schizophrenic ex-Special Forces colonel; a perverse performance artist who wrecks havoc with his holographic imaginings; a long-dead mentor whose personality has been encoded as a ROM construct; and a nubile mercenary with silver lenses implanted over her eyes, retractable razors beneath her fingernails and one heckuva chip on her shoulder. Case soon learns that the target he's supposed to crack and his employer and are one and the same -- an artificial intelligence named Wintermute.

Unlike most crime thrillers and many works of speculative fiction, Neuromancer is interested in a whole lot more that plot development. Gibson famously coined the word "cyberspace" and he imagines a world where continents are ruled more by corporations and crime syndicates than nations, where cultural trends both ancient and modern dwell side by side, where high-tech and biotech miracles are as ordinary as air. On one page you'll find a discussion of nerve splicing, on another a description of an open-air market in Istanbul. An African sailor with tribal scars on his face might meet a Japanese corporate drone implanted with microprocessors, the better to measure the mutagen in his bloodstream. When he's not plumbing the future, Gibson dips into weighty themes such as the nature of love, what drives people toward self-destruction and mind/body dualism. It's a rich, heady blend.

That complexity translates over to the novel's prose style, which is why I suspect my first effort to read it failed. Gibson peppers his paragraphs with allusions to Asian geography and Rastafarianism, computer programming and corporate finance. He writes about subjects ranging from drug addiction and zero-gravity physics to synesthesia and brutal back-alley violence. And he writes with next to no exposition. You aren't told that Case grew up in the Sprawl, which is the nickname for the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis, a concreted strip of the Eastern Seaboard, and that he began training in Miami to become a cowboy, which is slang for a cyberspace hacker, and that he was immensely skilled at it, et cetera, et cetera. No, you're thrust right into Case's shoes as he swills rice beer in Japan and pops amphetamines and tries to con the underworld in killing him when his back is turned because he thinks he'll never work again. You have to piece together the rest on your own.

Challenging? You bet. But it's electrifying once you get it.

I've worked by paperback copy until the spine and cover have split, until the pages have faded like old newsprint. Echoes of its diction sound in my own writing. Thoughts of Chiba City or BAMA pop into my head when I walk through the mall and hear a mélange of voices speaking in Spanish and English and Creole and German. Neuromancer is in me like a tea bag, flavoring my life, and I can't imagine what it would be like if I hadn't pressed on into page 26.
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93 of 108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Put: Great Science Fiction, November 19, 2002
'Neuromancer' is one of a handful of books/movies that I would pick to represent the science-fiction genre. Gibson succeeds on all levels here - I enjoyed the story, the characters, the settings, the technology, everything. Gibson writes about imperfection - he doesn't gloss anything over or try to make it too pretty. The characters are flawed, and have weaknesses - just like in real life. They live in a gritty world - just like in real life. And around them all, is technology - just like in real life.
'Neuromancer' is the story of Case: a hacker-type, cyberpunk, whatever you want to call him. He makes hackers of today look like amateurs - he totally immerses himself into the machine. Washed-up and raked over the coals, he gets a chance at a come back, even if it isn't on the most pleasant of terms.
Read this book if you are a science fiction fan - if for no other reason than to see what all the hype is about. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the classic it's made out to be, April 1, 2004
By 
R. Seehausen "aeroblaster2" (Cypress, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I get the feeling that Neuromancer won the awards and the popularity it did more because of the ideas it presents and its overladen prose than because of a good story or deep characters. Yes, it 'started cyberpunk', and the gritty yet slick setting does have a sense of depth and life.
Unfortunately, it's heavily burdened by prose that has a tendency to blur your eyes and make you shake your head in an effort to pay attention to what you're reading.
Most of the novel, in fact, suffers from an inability to make the reader care about what's happening. Gibson seems more committed to using three adjectives in a row and spewing simile after simile than capturing the reader's interest. I suppose you could call this "film noir" style, but for me, it just didn't work.
Coupled with a severe lack of information about what's going on and a numb, detached approach to its limited third person point of view, it's really hard to turn the next page and reach the end of this short novel that feels like it's three times longer than some of the monstrous tomes I've read.
The story itself is difficult to care about. It revolves around the machinations of a powerful artificial intelligence, but it's hard to understand what the point of the whole thing is, even after you've reached the last dissatisfying sentence. Sure, I understood the story, I just didn't understand why I was supposed to care.
Part of this apathy comes from a fundamental lack of characterization. The point of view is very 'cold'--that is, you don't get much inside the head of Case, and when you do, his thoughts are almost always analytical. When the sole viewpoint character doesn't feel any emotion for 90% of the story, it's kind of hard to feel emotion yourself. It's especially irritating that the novel is structured as a character story about Case's loss of his ability to 'jack in' and his death wish, and yet he never seems to care about much of anything (or Gibson fails to tell us about it if he does).
It seems to me that the appeal of this book is more for those who want to experience a well-developed milieu and pretty surface coating, as it has little power or significance as a story.
If you're looking for a detailed and skillfully constructed world, packaged in wordy description, or you want to see the roots of the cyberpunk genre, this novel is for you. If you're looking for an interesting, powerful story with deep characters, you won't find it here.
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135 of 170 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun, readable book, May 3, 2000
By 
Amazon Customer (Oakland, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Neuromancer (Hardcover)
I'm only an occasional reader of science fiction, and I've read even less cyberpunk - perhaps that's why I can't go along with all the reviews either calling this the greatest novel ever written, or a terrible hack job...they seem to be taking things within the context of the current cyberpunk scene, a scene I'm only vaguely familiar with.
I enjoyed the book the way one might enjoy a big Hollywood movie. The characterizations and plot were shallow and taken directly from noir and pulp fictions, no doubt about it. However, for all the times I've seen noir plots, I still enjoy them. I think the author made things fun, and kept the story going along smoothly. The ending did fall a little flat, but cyberpunk as a genre seems to flop the endings, and this was at least decent.
Also, I think it's easy to appreciate the futuristic setting of the book. True, it's a largely outdated view of the future, but it's an interesting world, and it's fun to see just how much Gibson got right back in 1984. I read this when I stayed live in post-bubble Osaka, and the book's view of the fringes of an efficient high-tech society struck a chord with me.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prophecy or fiction? You pick!, March 25, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Neuromancer (Hardcover)
It took me some time to get started into this book--the
"imaginary" future Gibson has created is somewhat familiar,
yet bizarre enough to leave one grasping for understanding in the beginning pages. Once engrossed, I couldn't put it down! My constant back thought as I read was the absolute awe that I felt for Gibson's ability to envision a computer
world so 1990's true to life at a time when Apple had yet to
create their first Mac! Gibson's description of "jacking in" to the net, and "flipping" is so close to today's "logging on" and "quick-switching" that it gave me goosebumps each time he used the terms! Gibson was truly
touched by the muse of inspiration when writing "Neuromancer", and I'm sure we'll see more of his *prophecies* come to pass before the millenium.
This is advised reading for all who wish to understand the
potential of the internet and the World Wide Web. Just take it slow, by osmosis you'll get the scenario, and by the final chapter--you'll know the concept. You'll be awestruck
too, I guarantee!
Can't wait to read Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive!

you
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Razor edged, crystalline, deliberately overdone prose..., November 12, 1999
By 
H. Lim (Carlingford, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Neuromancer (Hardcover)
I can assure anyone who hates this book that there is no conspiracy, this is a book that I am still in awe of, several months after reading it.
I can, however, understand people not comprehending what the hell's going on. I'd read half the novel before realising what was going on...but that's not the point.
It's very difficult to describe why this book is so great. Strictly speaking, it's not "poetry" or suchlike, it's not the "originality" of his writing style....
I suppose it could be described as a sort of Japanese minimalism and American mass consumerism blend society, which is Gibson's unique vision.
Here we don't have "x flew in spaceship to y, defeats z empire", but we have the world we know today, pushed to absolute overdrive. No pristine environment, or moving descriptions of the peace of space travel - here we have the dirty, hedonistic, consumerist, urban society we have today, driven by brandnames, bright lights, and no future; in essence, the Gen X-er's future.
It's not quite like Blade Runner, where it's a more Film Noir type city. Here we have technology used, not to benefit mankind but to sell to consumers - people who live out their lives as the pawns of corporations.
There is of course the wonderful descriptions of Virtual Reality/Internet, where mankind has created a sort of spirit-world, where depressed outcasts of this society can escape from the "world of meat".
I suppose this is why I think Neuromancer is great.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cyberpunk, August 19, 2000
William Gibson's "Neuromancer" is a beautifully crafted cyberpunk novel. The book is filled with incredibly rich detail while maintaining a gritty, dark attitude. The characters are for the most part static with very few pages dedicated to explaining who they are or why they do what they do, however it contributes to the mysterious tone that keeps the reader from being able to put the book down.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Neuromancer" and would suggest it to any fan of science fiction. I am familiar with the world of cyberpunk, having read a couple of Gibson's other novels and participated in the role playing game, but people unfamiliar with basic terms and concepts (the matrix, ice, etc.) might struggle through some of the more technical aspects of the novel. But it is DEFINITELY a worthwhile undertaking as "Neuromancer" is an incredibly potent cyberpunk novel, chock full of the drugs, violence, and technology that defines this dark genre. Also, I would suggest William Gibson's "Burning Chrome," a collection of short stories including "Johnny Mnemonic" (The short story is exponentially better than the poorly made movie starring Keanu Reeves). Enjoy!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...And Cyberspace was born., June 8, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Neuromancer (Hardcover)
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

So begins William Gibson's prophetic and apocryphal novel NEUROMANCER, the first in his SPRAWL Trilogy and arguably the most important Science Fiction novel of the Century. In a single, mind-bending work, Gibson propelled an entire generation into a new era of information perception, an era that has since woven itself strand-by-strand into the global information nexus we call the World Wide Web.
It begins with Case, a young and bitter cyberspace cowboy prowling the neon-lit streets of Chiba City, in search of his lost identity. Robbed of his talent for working the Matrix as a data thief and cyberspace pirate, his life is a bleak and desolate journey towards self-destruction. Until the day a mirror-eyed assassin offers him a second chance.
Suddenly Case is an unwitting pawn in a game whose board stretches from Chiba to the Sprawl to an orbiting pleasure colony populated by Ninja clones and Zion-worshipping Rastafarian spacers. The job: to hack the unhackable. To break the ICE around an Artificial Intelligence and release it from its own hardwired mind. But at every turn Case is haunted by the shadows of his own dark past, and pursued by a faceless enemy whose very presence can kill.
Ironically, William Gibson tapped out the wonders of NEUROMANCER on a manual typewriter, and was certain it was fated for the Out Of Print stack or a quiet cult following. But now, over ten years later and still in print, it has become a kind of cultural landmark in a sea of Information; a chrome-and-silicon avatar of everything from the World Wide Web to Virtual Reality. NEUROMANCER must not be explained or related; it must be experienced, taken in through the pores and rolled against the tongue like electric adrenaline. And there is only one way to do so.
Pick up a copy. And jack in.
Clay Douglas Major
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, but challenging - don't stop at pg. 20!, May 25, 2011
By 
Mark Twain (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
Unless you've read Gibson (or his contemporaries) before, I suspect your first reading of Neuromancer will go something like: You'll crack open the book, reading the words but not necessarily digesting them. Even within the first few pages you'll re-read passages two or three (or more) times in an attempt to wrap your head around the rhythm and meaning of the story. By the time you hit page 20 you'll feel drained and unsure of what you've read so far.

And then you'll go to put the book down, feeling like it simply isn't for you. Or that you don't have the energy for it right now. Or some other excuse you'll use as a way of coping with Gibson's style. When you get to this point it is absolutely vital you keep going. Trust me.

Reading Neuromancer is like encountering a new genre of music for the first time. It's challenging, brilliantly succinct, poetic and with its own vocabulary that Gibson trusts you will pick up as you read, rather than padding his work with needless explanation. It takes time to acclimate to, but once you pick up the beat you'll wonder how you missed it the first time around.

Part of the reason it's so challenging is that the ideas within are also challenging. Gibson proves himself as a visionary here and I urge you to remember just when this book was published (and then realize when it was likely written) so you may appreciate just how forward-thinking this novel is. There are a few weak spots in Gibson's articulation of his vision -- in particular, I didn't enjoy the geometric approach to ice and hacking -- but those are just tiny blips compared to the ultra-stylized world of tomorrow that Gibson's created. And, just as you consider what year the book was published/written in, take a moment to think of all the major sci-fi works which came afterwards and were highly inspired by Neuromancer.

You'll be surprised.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a Novel, not a treatise on the internet revolution., February 15, 2004
The prophetic content of this book is somewhat overrated. It's true Gibson explores cyberspace and lends it depth; but it's neither the cyberspace we know nor an immaculate view of something greater. It's a complex brainchild that sometimes comes across slightly rough, like a low-polygon count computer game. And by today's standards it seems more reminiscent of Tron than of technology's epoch. Neuromancer exudes exactly the optimism in the possibilities of integrated computer networks that spawned all sorts of prospects of cyberpunk futures in the Silicon Valley revolution, right before the bubble burst. Don't look for the future in this book.
Rather, Neuromancer should be approached and appreciated for what it is: excellent Sci-Fi noir. It's the Blade Runner of such novels; with tight narration hinting at a complete and inspired world just beneath the surface. And the early book does a good job of expositing this reality. Its focus deteriorates later on, when the author seems to be straining to convey the enormity of his fantasy world in a still-sensible fashion, and the plot elements spin out of control like overly ambitious anime (another inheritor of the noir/cyberpunk genre).
In the end, it's the characters that redeem it. Molly in particular, seems the most inspired denizen of such a mercenary hyperfuture. And the Rastafarians of Zion and the Dixie construct show Gibson understands that readers' interest in futuristic sci-fi depends on making it as complex and detailed as the present day. Sure, it was ahead of its time, and is now part of the evolution of the genre. But the real reason Neuromancer is worth a look is because it's foremost a story. A very good story.
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Neuromancer
Neuromancer by William Gibson (Hardcover - November 2, 2004)
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