March 23rd, 2011

planet

Neuromancer

Just finished Neuromancer by William Gibson. It's sort of referred to as this quintessential technological science fiction novel, I also had a friend in college tell me I HAD to read it because Gibson practically invented the internet in it.

I found it hard to get into at first because it's this gritty street drama sort of thing, and that's not usually the kind of book I like. It quickly introduces this slew of characters that I got totally lost with. I've heard that some people reread this book like crazy and that's probably the best way to do it, I bet the second time you read it it's a lot better because you'll know that "this huge crimelord trying to kill Case" is not at all important but "this random lady who he smokes a cigarette outside with once" is. Maybe the thing to do is read up on Wikipedia, get the main character names in your head, and then read.

It's also got "powerful family drama" woven into the plot, which you know is a bad way for a book to wrap another 15 characters with super-complicated relationships and generations into a story.

So I read it, and only vaguely understood what was going on, and when I cared enough I'd decide to not be lost and start flipping back pages and maybe I'd figure out where we were with the story. But I usually had no idea. The book moves fast, there are major heists and new friends made and lost and enemies and fake versions of real people and fake places that aren't real at all, and sometimes the main character is in a computer cyberworld sort of consciousness and sometimes he's in space and sometimes he's just hanging out in a hotel. The author has a lot of concepts he's trying to convey, and a lot of predictions about the future.

The only notable concept I really liked was this minor point-counterpoint about how to live forever... there are two ways. You can freeze yourself and thaw out every few decades to see how things are going. Or you can create a copy of yourself, a computer that thinks like you, a program, and it can run forever. Either way you sort of end up divorced from the process, wondering if you chose the right method, and it's going to be hard to link your future self to who you are now. That was the point of the book for me, I'm not sure what the point was supposed to mean.

What'd I miss?