Since I had reread Neuromancer by William Gibson near the start of the year, I decided to reread its sequel Count Zero too.
Summary: in many ways, I like Count Zero better.
Count Zero is the story of three different characters, each in their own storyline. We have Bobby, a wannabe hacker; Turner, a corporate mercenary; and Marly, an art expert. Yes, of course, their stories are interconnected but they are still their own thing. Marly doesn’t even meet the other two.
It’s a good book so I don’t want to spoil it too much. All three of the characters are caught in the plans of a guy who is so rich he’s ceased to really be human and the works of what are Voodoo loa, the fractured pieces of an AI or both.
I have to be honest. I find myself constantly looking at Count Zero either as a stand-alone work or comparing it to Neuromancer. As a stand alone work, it is really good. However, it is a study of contrasts with Neuromancer.
It is definitely shares a setting with Neuromancer and the events of Neuromancer clearly shape what’s going on in Count Zero. However, there’s only one shared character and you could honestly read Count Zero as a stand alone work. You should still read Neuromancer, of course.
The really interesting contrast for me is the characters. Case and the rest of the crew in Neuromancer are damaged, self-destructive people. And, by the end of the work, they are still self-destructive, only varying in the degrees they are damaging themselves. In Count Zero, we still have damaged people but they are all struggling to do better, to be better. It isn’t nearly as punk or noire but it is more interesting.
While Count Zero didn’t create a new genre, I honestly think the plot is more complex and the character development is better than Neuromancer. I read Neuromancer and appreciated its influence. I read Count Zero and appreciate William Gibson.
I should finally actually read The Mona Lisa Overdrive.