Neuromancer

No, it’s not the class they have forgotten to introduce in Diablo 3 – it’s a book of certain significance to modern culture and, more important, my favorite one. It was written by William Gibson in 1984 and time had been kind to it (Okay he did’t anticipate mobile phones but really, who cares?) It’s a great piece of literature and it’s opening sentence is one of the most qouted lines in modern fiction. “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. ” Everyone living in a major city should be familiar with that thought – the faint and lurking glow of life at dawn.

A triple crown

And I do not stand alone with my appreciation for this book. Neuromancer was the first novel to win “the triple crown” of science fiction awards – the Nebula, the Hugo and the Philip K. Dick Award (A feat comparable to “winning the Goncour, Bokker and Pulitzer prizes in one year”). It was on Time Magazine’s list of 100 best English-language novels written since 1923 and it has introduced completely new words into the English language. This included the widely used  ”cyberspace”, which for some time became the common term for the world wide web.  The part in which cyberspace is first described, is another beautiful quote from the book, that I’d like to share:

“The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games. … Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts. … A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.”

So what is it about?

You could say it’s about a hacker who lost everything he cared for and who is hired right before he hits rock bottom – to do a job that could bring it all back. On that mission you’ll find tragic, love, substance abuse and violence – all written with the voice of a master. The characters, which include artificial intelligences, blind ninja bodyguards and a cybernetic enhanced (female) assassin, will take you on a twisted path that sucked me in whenever I read this book.

William Gibson – the man who moved to Canada not only to evade the Vietnam draft but to “sleep with hippie chicks” and indulge in hashish!

That is why Neuromancer is one of the few books I tend to read every other year – always as soon as I have started to forget its exact content. It’s not the only book I’ve read repeatedly but none of them managed to always reach me. From age twelve to twenty-five.

Things to come

Be productive - read an audiobook!

I have no idea why this master piece is still that unknown. Maybe just because it is science fiction. But recently Hollywood decided to show this genre some love and while I may fear the result – the book itself will finally step into the  perception of the many. Pre-production of the movie by Vincenzo Natail (the director of Cube and Splice) has started last year with a budget of 60 million dollars and filming is expected to start at any time now. If you are not the reading kind and have no intention of seeing the movie (I bet It will be in 3D anyway…), there is another great alternative: The audio books! If you travel, work out or play a repetitive online game, Neuromancer will be a good companion. It’s also a great gift to others, which then you can enjoy. Just tell them it’s a classic! I got mine using this “technique” on father’s day!

The last sentence of the novel was added at the last-minute as a self control measure by Gibson to retain him from ever writing a sequel. Luckily, his determination wavered and he followed Neuromancer up with “Count Zero” and “Mona Lisa Overdrive” to create the Sprawl trilogy!