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VWN Product Reviews: Neuromancer

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Neuromancer, written in 1984, has managed to stay in print for more than two and a half decades. An impressive achievement for any novel, it reminds us of the power of words, in the gritty, grimy, spiralingly depressing and technologically both wondrous and surprisingly accurate book that gave birth to the cyberpunk genre.

It was William Gibson?s first novel, and notable immediately, for winning all of science fiction?s top awards - the Nebula Award, Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award.

There had been books that echoed the tenets of cyberpunk long before Neuromancer of course, yet the decks, simstim, wireheads, neural jacks, cyberspace itself. All these terms, many of which have crept into the professional and public consciousness, originated in this book.

The story itself is deceptively simple in summary, hideously yet not convolutedly complex in its execution, and filled with subtle depths that make the world seem both comfortably familiar and unspeakably horrific at the same time.

In the plot, the protagonist is one Henry Dorsett Case. Once a talented cyberspace cowboy, he made the mistake of withholding some purloined funds from his employers, in a not exactly legal operation. He had thought they would kill him when they caught him, but they didn?t. They did something so much worse.

They damaged his neural structure with a mycotoxin, leaving him unable to interface his mind with a neural jack. Cyberspace was closed to him, and his life seemed to be over. That is until a new employer dug him out of the gutter, and offered him a proposition he could not refuse ? not if he wanted to keep on living that is. To make sure he would want to keep living, they offered him another way to jack into cyberspace?

 

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