Neuromancer by William Gibson fulfilled the “Book that Has Inspired a Common Phrase or Idiom” in the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. I’m so proud that I finally finished this novel. It’s taken me about twenty years to get it under my belt. Listening to an audio version helped me see what everyone was talking about.
Neuromancer was written in 1984—apropos, huh? The novel details an adventure in the life of Henry Case as he navigates the criminal world and cyberspace. The story takes on an epic journey throwing technology at us left and right. It’s kinda amazing. Case hooks up with Molly, a woman with many bio-enhancements who is his lover and partner in the schemes. But does she feel anything for him? We’re never sure. The book is super technical and complicated. I won’t lie. I could use another read to understand the entire story. The fact that it’s older helped me understand since I already understand cyberspace.
There’s the word—Cyberspace, one among various other coined by the novel. When I was teaching, I told my students (veteran teachers) how the book predicted the future, invented the term cyberspace and gave so many things life in the techno world. Of course, I hadn’t read the novel when I said all that.
I did but got lost immediately. Listening to the story on audio helped me understand the universe Gibson built. Well, that and seeing all The Matrix movies. Talk about inspiring a generation. The book had Matrix elements throughout it. I bet if a kid read it today, he’d complain the book was copying the movie. I loved all those details that ended up in the movies.
The novel was perfect for the category as the story used and reused many new terms. Cyberspace, Microsoft (which may or may not have been in the universe when the book was conceived), matrix, and more. But it wasn’t an easy read. Even listening, I had to work at it. I challenged my husband, a hard science science-fiction fan to try it and he declined. I don’t know if it would be easier if one read tons of sci-fi or not.
Sadly, I’m spoiled for Sci-fi nowadays. I love romance and the deep personal connections between the characters. I want to understand the protagonist and want to love him. Routing for the hero (heroine) is essential in romance but in sci-fi, characterization falls to the wayside compared to plot and conflict (external conflict). The few sci-fi books I’ve read lately neglect to develop the character in the drama (though All Systems Red contradicts that. I loved Murderbot so much.)
I want to experience deep feelings, inspirations behind the character’s actions. Take Molly, for example. What’s her backstory? Why was she like that? Perhaps if I read more in the series, I could find out. But the slog right now doesn’t seem worth it. Case was okay as a protagonist, but I doubt I’ll give him any more of my time. He’s no Neo.
As it’s a classic, I must pay homage. It was a great story, just not my cup of tea. I give Neuromancer 4 cyberstars.