By William Gibson

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Ace Books, 1984

Genres: Science fiction, cyberpunk

Series: Sprawl Trilogy; 1

ISBN: 0441569595

Audience: Adult

Number of pages: 271

Settings: Chiba City, the Sprawl (Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis), Istanbul, & Freeside

Time period: An unspecified time in the future

Plot summary: Case, an ex-cowboy, is hanging out in Chiba awaiting his own demise.  With a crippled nervous system and not much to look forward to, Case fills his time with octagons and whatever else he can find in Night City to give him a rush.  That is until he is offered a deal he can’t refuse – a chance for his neural damage to be healed and a seat at a console where he can jack into cyberspace.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: In general, the story has a brisk pace, but moves more slowly in the beginning.

Characterization: Told in third person through Case.  The two most important secondary characters are Molly – aka Steppin’ Razor – and Wintermute – an AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Frame: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” (p. 3).  The story begins with a bleak frame in both the external world and for Case, who has been slowly killing himself for the past year.  The bleakness transforms into anxiousness as Case learns what his assignment is and for whom he is working.

Story line: A multi-layered story with a wide range of characters, surreal hidden realms, space travel and dub music.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Computer hackers — Fiction.

Business intelligence — Fiction.

Information superhighway — Fiction.

Nervous system — Wounds and injuries — Fiction.

Cyberspace — Fiction.

Conspiracies — Fiction.

Computers — Fiction.

Japan — Fiction.

Science fiction.

Similar works:

Count Zero by William Gibson

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

Burning Chrome by William Gibson

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Personal notes: When I first started this book I felt a bit lost – kind of like trying a new, unheard of video game for the first time.  Gibson creates a world which is both familiar and yet utterly foreign.  This book had been on my “to read” shelf for many years – but I was surprised to discover that this story was published in 1984.  I noted the references to the Cold War in the story.  I very much enjoyed the writing and how the story was put together – the descriptions, dialog, mispronunciations of names.  It is a well crafted story.

Other (diversity, websites): Diversity – Console Cowboy, Flatliner, genetically and surgically altered people, Artificial Intelligences, space Zionites (Rastafarians)

William Gibson’s website

A study guide to Neuromancer offered by Washington State University

This book won the “triple crown” of Science Fiction Awards – Nebula Award, Hugo Award, and Philip K Dick Award.


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