Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Neuromancer: the book that became a genre

 If William Gibson hadn’t written Neuromancer and basically invented the genre of Cyberpunk on the spot... I’m honestly not convinced someone else would have.

Gibson didn’t invent the idea of a human mind going into a computer. (Heck, Tron is older than Neuromancer) He certainly didn’t invent corporate-run dystopias. He absolutely didn’t invent noire which is the underlining literary genre of Cyberpunk.

But he did blend those elements and more into a singular vision that informed a ridiculous amount of media that followed it. Heck, a lot of the jargon and slang he created has gone into regular use and become regular words.

This was the third or fourth time I’ve read Neuromancer. And each time has been different. Yes, part of it is that the jargon has become more standardized. However, Gibson’s abrupt, even staccato, way of breaking up scenes has become more common and thus easier to follow.

And with the actual writing easier to follow, the actual story is simpler than I remembered. It’s a heist story, dripping with noire anti-heroes. Taking the basic structure and dropping it into Chicago during the Great Depression would be an interesting exercise although some of the Cyberpunk aspects of the heist would be hard to reconfigure.

Two things I came away from this reading with: I think a big part of the iconic nature of street samurai Molly Millions with her Wolverine claws and perpetual sunglasses is her really awesome name. Second, Maelcum, the Rastafarian navy, is the dark horse of the book. The closest thing to a  normal person and a functional human being, he’s now the biggest reason I want to see a movie adaptation.

There is something to the accusation of there being more style than substance to Neuromancer BUT I have seen so much Cyberpunk with no substance that I treasure the substance that is there. That said, I remember liking Count Zero more and I’m looking forward to rereading that.

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