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VWN Product Reviews: Count Zero
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?He spent most of those three months in a ROM-generated simstim construct of an idealised New England boyhood of the previous century. The Dutchman?s visits were grey dawn dreams, nightmares that faded as the sky lightened beyond his second-floor bedroom window. You could smell the lilacs, late at night. He read Conan Doyle by the light of a sixty watt bulb behind a parchment shade printed with clipper ships. He masturbated in the smell of clean cotton sheets and thought about cheerleaders. The Dutchman opened a door in his back brain and came strolling in to ask questions, but in the morning his mother called him down to Wheaties, eggs, and bacon coffee with milk and sugar.?
Count Zero, page 9



Count Zero was William Gibson?s second novel. Slotting in straight after Neuromancer, it takes place in the same universe, a few years down the track. Action darts between three main sets of protagonists:

A corporate mercenary, Turner. Blown up on the job, and reconstructed from open market body parts, he is sent to retrieve the defecting head of R&D of another corporation.


Bobby Newmark, a young, nieve teen from the boredom of Bobbytown, an almost-slum. He thinks he is a hot hacker, but in reality is your typical teenage clueless user, who promptly gets in way over his head.

Marly Krushkhova, an art finder, sent by the world?s richest, and oldest man to find boxes, containing wondrous forms of art, and possibly so much more than that.

Each of these characters has life unfold around them in a delicate lattice of interconnecting threads, that pulls you in and absorbs you in their development.

That, is actually a problem. Gibson takes the storytelling lines of Neuromancer, and expands upon them in this book, pushing further out, and, whilst the work is a literal wealth of technological ideas, beautiful metaphors and breathtaking script, it is not a cohesive novel.

What it is, is three novels, taken like three decks of cards, and shuffled together into one. All the elements of each story are in the right order, and follow breathtakingly, but you find yourself jumping from one to the other to the other and back again, with events that have no seeming correlation to one another until the book heads towards its? close. Only at the vey end, do the threads begin to intertwine, to build up a fuller picture.

If you can live with this kind of style, stronger in it?s manifestation than in Neuromancer, then this book is a real treat. If you cannot read like that, then this book is still a great resource for intellectual stimulation. Like its? predecessor, this book is literally packed full of technological ideas, theories, and implementations, all derived, or logically extended from today?s concepts and thrusts. The world of the near future if gritty, dark reality, and the technology as dark and gritty as the rest.

?Heavy icebreakers are kind of funny to deal in, even for the big boys. You know why? Because ice, all the hard stuff, the walls around every major store of data in the matrix, is always the product of an AI, an artificial intelligence. Nothing else is fast enough to weave good ice and constantly alter and update it. So when a really powerful icebreaker shows up on the black market, there are already a couple of very dicey factors in play. Like for starts, where did the product come from? Nine times out of ten, it came from an AI, and Ais are constantly screened, mainly by the Turing people, to make sure they don?t get too smart.?
Count Zero, page 114

 

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