Neuromancer by William Gibson

★☆☆☆☆ (1/5)

5 chapters in and it still seems that much of the story is taking place inside author’s head. Incomprehensible details, technical terms, choppy sentences are just not amusing. I can understand the general story, the progress of main action. But beyond that, references and world-building completely evade me.

10 chapters in and the plot thickens – or so I would like to believe had I understood the nitty-gritties of Gibson’s futuristic world. What do Molly, Case and Armitage all look like? Are they bots or humans or both? Cyborgs? Where do they live? Within the VR or do they reside in the real world and plug in and out of some virtual space?

Synopsis so far: Case is hired by Armitage to steal (?) something. Molly is Armitage’s assistance. Molly asks Case to secretly spy on Armitage and find who controls him. They steal something together and occasionally have sex. Different minor characters tell stories of some war in Russia (Armitage is one of the soldiers who survived). Case does drugs and also has a space syndrome (nausea whilst traveling in zero-g).

15 chapters in Straylight is a villa Molly and Case are trying to infiltrate. I still don’t understand what all the fanfare is about. Maybe it’s one of those books you had to be there for back in its heyday. Otherwise this seems like an average story made utterly incomprehensible through indecipherable writing. I cannot get my head around

20 chapters in: Chapter 20 is probably my most favourite. Case is stuck in the virtual construct and meets his dead girlfriend Linda. Somehow the writing is more vivid and moving, leaving images upon the mind’s eye. For the first time I’m able to envision Gibson’s world.

There was no moon, no wind, sea sound all around him in the darkness. His jeans were tight and clammy. “Okay,” he said to the night, “I buy it. I guess I buy it. But tomorrow some cigarettes better wash up.”

Chapter 21 is reminiscent of the film “Inception” by Christopher Nolan who also directed “Interstellar” in which one of the robots is named CASE!

Final Thoughts: I’m not a fan of the book. The jargon, the world and character building might be better understood by someone who has had previous brushes with cyberpunk genre. I was unable to imagine appearances of the characters and the world they resided in. Irregular sentences embellished with technical terms that evoked no imagery constantly dampened my reading experience.

That being said, my dislike is limited to the contents of the story only. Perhaps after further research I’ll be able to better appreciate its influence on the genre. But that does not necessarily give any merit to the story. I’ll have to search for illustrations depicting the characters in order to place them in Gibson’s world. If a reader is coerced into supplementing their understanding of the story through external means, the book failed miserably somewhere. I am sure the greatness of the story is buried deep beneath its dreadful façade, after all it is a classic with immense significance. I’m just not too keen on digging out its beauty.

Interesting Passages         

  • Upper lip like the line children draw to represent a bird in flight.
  • He also saw a certain sense in the notion that burgeoning technologies require outlaw zones, that Night City wasn’t there for its inhabitants, but as a deliberately unsupervised playground for technology itself.
  • Julius Deane was one hundred and thirty-five years old, his metabolism assiduously warped by a weekly fortune in serums and hormones. His primary hedge against aging was a yearly pilgrimage to Tokyo, where genetic surgeons reset the code of his DNA, a procedure unavailable in Chiba
  • Sexless and inhumanly patient, his primary gratification seemed to lie in his devotion to esoteric forms of tailor-worship. Case had never seen him wear the same suit twice
  • “Proof against fear and being alone,” the bartender continued. “Listen to the fear. Maybe it’s your friend.”
  • Terrorism as we ordinarily understand it is innately media-related
  • The road in from the airport had been dead straight, like a neat incision, laying the city open
  • Zion smelled of cooked vegetables, humanity, and ganja
  • With a languorous, dreamlike deliberation, it raked Riviera’s bare back
  • “Well,” said the Finn, “it’s like that tree, you know? Falls in the woods but maybe there’s nobody to hear it.”
  • Tessier and Ashpool climbed the well of gravity to discover that they loathed space. They built Freeside to tap the wealth of the new islands, grew rich and eccentric, and began the construction of an extended body in Straylight. We have sealed ourselves away behind our money, growing inward, generating a seamless universe of self
  • Her lips barely moved. He felt her form the words; he didn’t need to hear them spoken aloud.
  • Power, in Case’s world, meant corporate power. The zaibatsus, the multinationals that shaped the course of human history, had transcended old barriers. Viewed as organisms, they had attained a kind of immortality. You couldn’t kill a zaibatsu by assassinating a dozen key executives; there were others waiting to step up the ladder, assume the vacated position, access the vast banks of corporate memory
  • “Armitage is dead.” “Armitage never existed, more to the point, but the news hardly comes as a shock.”
  • “I’m not Wintermute now.” “So what are you.” He drank from the flask, feeling nothing. “I’m the matrix, Case.” Case laughed. “Where’s that get you?” “Nowhere. Everywhere. I’m the sum total of the works, the whole show.”
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