Book Recommendation: Neuromancer

William Gibson created the “archetypal cyberpunk work,” even if he eventually grew to hate the term which now connotes an entire subgenre of sci-fi. It’s a wonderful, fascinating book, Neuromancer, and I will attempt to persuade you to read it!

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

What a fantastic way to open a book, don’t you think? First lines are important, and this one sets a very particular tone which runs throughout the entirety of Neuromancer. Gibson’s world is a dark place, ran by corporations and their interests, a world of increasingly less relevant national governments, where technological cowboys (hackers, basically) ride through cyberspace, breaking walls of virtual ice to get whatever their corporate overlords want.

What is cyberspace, you ask?

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”

Quite the description, isn’t it? Reminiscent of something, perhaps?

Note that Neuromancer was published in 1984; Gibson, some will claim, predicted the internet, as well as virtual reality, before either was a thing. Perhaps he saw the blood in the sky, the writings on the wall; and he decided to share his vision.

Or perhaps Neuromancer was influential enough. Could it be that this struck a chord with the right people, the dreamers, those who could translate a vision into reality, and so brought it along?

The Matrix Gibson speaks of has enough differences to our Internet for now. But those continue to melt away. Perhaps they’ll dissipate entirely before too long. The concept fascinates me, and it scares me a little.

Such is the effect of the world of Neuromancer. It’s easy–so easy–to get lost in it.

I have to balance the scales, however. You might not enjoy this particular title if you dislike being thrown into a sea of unfamiliar vocabulary. Some words and concepts are downright alien, at times. For me, that created a greater sense of immersion, but–especially at the beginning–I got confused a few times too many.

It ends a bit too abruptly, perhaps…but it’s never the ending that matters to me; not that much. It’s the journey.

During that journey, you will traverse a different world, neither better nor worse than this one, and described with a watchmaker’s precision, with skill one could envy, if it didn’t summon a degree of awe instead.

Grab it. It’s worth your time.

 

Thank you for reading! See you again next time.

 

 

Thursday Spotlight: Martin Eden

I haven’t read many books about writers, but amongst the ones that I have…this one is my favorite. It tells the story of a simple young man who, having saved a member of the upper class’ live, is introduced to a young, well-educated lady. He, of course, falls in love with her immediately and realizes just how unworthy he is. Thus Martin Eden decides to learn to read, and to write; all so he can be closer to the lovely Ruth, that he can talk with her and be worthy of her. His mind is like a sponge — fertile land to the roots of knowledge and of ideas, complicated, conflicting ideas about man’s nature; and soon enough, he decides on becoming a writer.

But it isn’t an easy road, is it? No, it’s not, and no novel could show the hardships of that road–the dangers–better than Martin Eden could.

But what else is this book?

Martin Eden is, in some ways, an autobiographical work which incorporates a number of Jack London’s experiences, with Ruth Morse – Martin’s love interest – being modeled after the author’s first love, Mabel Applegarth. It also serves to illustrate London’s disillusionment with the publishing industry of his time.

Martin Eden illustrates the clash between individualism and collectivism, with the eponymous character being a firm believer in Spencer and Nietzche’s philosophical views. The novel is, nevertheless, a very stark criticism of just these views, which eventually lead Eden to losing his very ability to enjoy life, to feel alive.

Martin Eden is, also, a story of wrong and misguided perceptions, and the toll of consequent realizations – it’s a simple thing to chalk it off as a tale of failed romance, but I never read it like one.

Martin Eden is a tale of madness and sacrifice and of success, and of what comes after. A gripping narrative that will hold you fast and hold you tight until the very last page. It will be worth it.