Review: Neuromancer

Series: Sprawl: #1

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

It’s the Matrix decades before the Matrix. Or at least a Matrix?

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…

It’s cyberpunk in a nutshell. A gritty dark world where computers and virtual worlds play first class. In this case, there’s the Matrix. Basically the internet, but with better visuals. And of course, because this was written in the 80s, the only way to access it is jacking in.

The terminology is at once futuristic and dated, but there’s only so much you can do when you write about ’near’ future worlds. Even the better racial stereotype (that’s a way to start a sentence…) are dated if not outright cringe inducing.

Characterwise… it’s mostly an action story. I didn’t care much if our protagonist lived or died… but that’s okay, because he’s really just a vehicle for the story. Such is life.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the descriptions and characterizations of the AIs. We live in world where AI is advancing in leaps and bounds, doing things AI creators in the 80s wouldn’t have imagined possible, while at the same time proving just how hard a problem it still is. In the case of Neuromancer though, the AIs feel almost Urban Fantasy style Fae. Alien, at a totally different scale, and terrifying. It works.

Not my favorite entry even into this sub-genre, but it’s also not at all a bad book. Worth a read.