Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Neuromancer was recently re-released in a 20th anniversary edition, and I figured it was about time I revisited a favorite from my childhood.

Neuromancer now, through jaded eyes, is not what it was. The gritty nightmare of a techno-future is not the wonderous playground it once seemed to be. It's been done better since. (see Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan) The plot itself and the characters seem a bit shallow, and some of the technology (and absent technology) acts to form a very dated novel.

But Neuromancer is now also much more than it ever was. It begat the entire cyberpunk subgenre. It is a foundation for countless novels and movies and television shows that have been created since. Neuromancer gave us 'cyberspace' and 'the matrix.' It is the novel that killed science fiction. It is the novel that gave birth to a new generation of science fiction.

Neuromancer did not have the future pegged, but it was a future vision that had not before been revealed. In retrospect the characters are caricatures and the plot is questionable, but these points mean nothing in hindsight. Neuromancer is important for the change it was the catalyst for.

There is no hope when the novel ends. There was no hope when it began; it's a novel of survival in a future where hope is not the point. Surviving is the best one can hope for. There's no deeper meaning for existence in a world gone mad with technology, and in this, William Gibson said just what the world was thinking. What the world was fearing.

Love it or hate it, Neuromancer is the most important science fiction work of the past 35 years.


Collector's Notes:

Neuromancer was first published in the United States as a softcover. (and hence was eligible to win the Philip K. Dick Award, which it did) The first UK edition was a hardcover from Gollancz, and in fine condition can fetch upwards of 2000 dollars American.

In 1986, a limited (375 copies) numbered edition was printed by Phantasia Press. This is the first US hardcover edition of Neuromancer, and can fetch between 800 and 900 dollars American. An unumbered edition of this book (limited to 1000 copies) can fetch 400 dollars.

The true US first edition is a mass market paperback from Ace Science Fiction, and in fine condition will sell for somewhere between 400 and 600 dollars.

Comments on "Neuromancer by William Gibson"


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