Sunday, June 3, 2012

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Neuromancer was first published 28 years ago, but William Gibson's classic story about sentient computers still feels fresh. It is compelling, inventive and suspenseful. As with all the best science fiction, it combines physical and intellectual adventure in a complex world. It won all three of the major science fiction awards: the Nebula, the Hugo and the Philip K. Dick.

I've been meaning to read this book for years and recently listened to the Random House audiobook 20th anniversary edition [10.5 hours], read by Robertson Dean. It includes an introduction by the author and a lengthy afterword by Jack Womack.

I expected it to be bleak, but it was almost upbeat... considering that Case, the central character, is a drug-addicted, suicidal computer hacker. He and a ninja-like mercenary named Molly are hired to steal some well-protected code. Molly has had extensive body modifications, including lightning-quick responses, mirrored implants over her eyes, and claws made of 4-inch blades that retract under her fingernails. The story is set in an unspecified near-future on Earth; that there isn't a date perhaps helps it to remain relevant today. Case ventures into a cyberspace world that could have been imagined under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. It's a wild ride from gritty start to bittersweet finish. Wow.

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