I once spied a box in my friend Tony's garage that said "READIN' 'EM BOOKS" in black marker across its side. Those books were for reading he explained. As in, reading for pleasure, not school books.
It's stuck with me. :)
Sadly, I find that I don’t finish all that many novels. When I do, though, I feel a great sense of satisfaction. Since I read slowly and generally only snatch a few pages when I go to bed at night, it takes me a long time to get through.
One aspect of my not getting through that many is just being so damn busy. But I also start a lot of books that I don’t finish. Being so busy, and so picky, I often get to a certain point in a book where I feel like I have to force myself to go on, or I’m taking weeks between chapters. In those cases, the book obviously hasn’t held my interest and is probably not worth it for me to continue. If I have to force myself to be interested… what’s the point?
That was not the case with William Gibson’s classic pillar of cyberpunk, Neuromancer.
I read this book about 10 years ago and really enjoyed. Although recently, I couldn’t really remember much about it. I remembered the principal characters, and that the AIs (artificial intelligences) were these huge, mythic beings (not physically huge, but mythically huge), and I remembered that there were Rastafarians in space.
Yes, that’s what I remembered most, that one strange fact: Rastafarians in space.
Other than that, I couldn’t remember much about the story.
So I read it again, finishing up this week.
I have been carrying a used paperback copy from place to place for probably a decade. The same one I read originally, I assume. The stamp on the first page is from a used book store in Carlsbad, CA, where I lived from late 2008 to late 2011. It was kind of cool to be able to date a time-place where I first acquired and read the book.
I’m not going to give up any spoilers, but I will offer the following facts and opinions about the book:
1. First novel to win the Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Awards—all three in one year.
2. Published in 1984. 1984 proves over and over again to be, quite possibly, the best year in human history for a myriad of reasons. (Pop-culture-wise, anyway.) I feel sorry for all of you who weren’t yet born in 1984.
3. It is considered a foundational book of the Cyberpunk genre. And with good reason!
4. I can’t seem to find a single cool-looking book cover for this damn thing. The best I could locate is above. It is pretty cool, but it's not the novel. I found it on Wikipedia stating that it comes from a graphic novel adaptation in 1989. Seems like publishers are going out of their way to produce crappy covers for this book. (Why don’t they hire me to do one? I couldn't do any worse!)
5.Established a lot of the cyberpunk norms we have today and predicted a lot of tech. Before there was cyberspace or the Matrix, there was Neuromancer. As far as I can tell, these terms are Gibson’s terms.
6. Also the basis of the Shadowrun RPG, which my friends and I played in high school.
7. Cool aspects: A gritty, dark future. Cyberspace and the matrix, hackable by deck-wielding cowboys. Cyborg-like combat augmentations, lending modified toughs to be called street samurai. Artificial intelligences exist and are powerful, even godlike. Never sure who to trust. Characters don’t always behave “the way they’re supposed to.” The AIs are like captured omnipotent gods, held in check by the human beings that created them.
8. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything. This is a badass, genre-defining book. But I still wouldn’t give it 5/5 stars. More like 4 or 4.5. The main reason being that Gibson’s prose, descriptions, and events are sometime hard to follow. And the story seems a little stretched out past where it needs to be. I was surprised to find that part of the reason I didn’t remember what happened beyond the mission in the orbital Las Vegas setting, was because the vast majority of the book happens there. There’s Case’s recruitment, a cool smaller mission that sets things up, some snooping to see if they can trust their own employer, and then… a good two-thirds of the book is the mission itself. It just seems to take a long time in telling that story.
9. I’ve also read the Sprawl sequels (thanks to gifts from my buddy Nate), which I enjoyed but not as much as Neuromancer. Their stories were a bit less coherent for me and harder to get into. But they were still good.
Next on my reading agenda, which I’ve already started, are Marvel’s Civil War 2 graphic novel/TPB and Save the Cat, a so-far very helpful book on screenwriting.
I’m also continuing to write Book 3 of the Identity Crisis series. So far, our heroes have spent much of their time as prisoners of a Nazi-controlled asylum in Belgium, 1941.
And now it's time for bed. Good night.