Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Hugos: Neuromancer

Deep breaths.

Prepare to not be shocked.

Ready? It's not my taste. At all.

'Neuromancer', the 1984 novel by William Gibson that won the 1985 Hugo award (and was the first to win Nebula & Dick awards into the bargain) is VERY highly regarded by many as a pioneering book in the SF sub-genre now referred to as cyberpunk.

It tells a bleak, disjointed story about a dystopian future where various unsavory and damaged characters compete for money and survival, culminating in the activation of a sentient computer which will probably also grow up to be a giant ass-hat.

I gave it 2 stars out of 5, and that was mainly because I was pleased to hear Gibson was a Nam draft-dodger. Also because I prefer to go along with the crowd if I can, and the crowd LOVED this.

I could not find things to like about a single grim character in the humorless septic tank of this morality-free, jargon-crammed future. Probably WORSE is how forgettable the whole affair was: I've been reading Wikipedia and other people's reviews for an hour trying to spark a recollection of any kind! Sadly, what rubbed off was negativity. Although my swiss cheese memory was only backed by my OWN star review, I think I got the gist.

As in-
Lister: Some smegger filled out this 'Have You got a Good Memory' quiz!
Kryten: Yes, sir. YOU did. A week ago.
Lister: Have I?
Kryten: Yes, sir. Nobody else spells Thursday with an 'F'.

Gibson apparently wrote a short story about a character who voluntarily turns his back on 'The Gernsback Continuum' (named for the guy behind the Hugo award), a reality where the futurist visions of the 40s & 50s came true. Granted, a bunch of those visions were racist and/or hollow pie-in-the-sky nonsense, but give me a sexy gal with a jet pack in a shiny utopia above a metal-eyed crack-whore with a spinal plug in a back alley ANY DAMN DAY!

Call me shallow, but I loves me my escapist fiction. That said, I liked 'The Matrix' and even 'Johnny Mneumonic', movies that wouldn't exist without Gibson's unique vision. Also, I'll soon be reading Gibson & Sterling's 'The Difference Engine' for my bookclub, so I better buckle up my big boy steam-powered laser boots!

(I am clearly more cyberdisco than cyberpunk.)

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