By: William Gibson
In the technotopia of Night City roams a former matrix jockey strung out on drugs and headed for self-destruction. Unable to link his mind to a computer after a theft gone wrong, Case takes odd jobs to keep his meager living and drug addiction going.
One night, a young woman equipped with dangerous augmentations comes to collect Case for an unknown job. He learns he’s been recruited for a heist that will likely get him killed. When Case explains that he can’t do the job because he’s lost his abilities, the boss promises to return him to his former glory as a jockey. With limited options and an itch to return to cyberspace, Case accepts the proposition that will alter the future of humanity forever.
Neuromancer is the novel responsible for inspiring sci-fi classics such as The Matrix as well as the tabletop game Cyberpunk which eventually became the 2020 video game release Cyberpunk 2077. The novel focuses heavily on body augmentations with cybernetics and the existence of true AI.
Neuromancer suffers from a common issue in sci-fi (especially older sci-fi) where the technobabble and jargon make visualizing scenes almost impossible. Humans don’t think in the language of computers, but supposedly one day we will be able to link our brains to one and live in the world of cyber data.
The descriptions are meant to push your brain and feel alien. Gibson provided a forward in the book copy I read describing how the concept of a cell phone never crossed his mind when he was writing Neuromancer, so they don’t appear anywhere in his novel. Similarly, we are meant to feel that the technology portrayed in the book is so far advanced that we have no idea how to make it. In 2021, places like Night City and its inhabitants are just far-off visions of the future. The complexity of the writing serves the purpose to both baffle and inspire.
I regularly had to reread passages to make sure I was understanding the context and story correctly which detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book. That being said, the body augmentations and AI were awesome, so they definitely kept the story interesting.
There are two more books in the series which I intend to get to eventually.
Overall rating: 4