25 Reasons to Read William Gibson's Neuromancer

For the writers (and readers) out there who have not read (or who have not finished reading) William Gibson’s Neuromancer

NEUROMANCER!   Well, I don’t want to come across as a book snob, but I will say: How can you call yourself a well-read fictionado without having read Neuromancer?  (In classic Lily-style) I can give you at least 25 reasons why Neuromancer is an amazing book, and a must read for anyone delving into the finer points of fiction-writing.

Brazilian cover

25 Reasons to Read Neuromancer

#1: The writing makes you work, and think as a writer, because it doesn’t follow the rules.  It’s a marvelous example of breaking free of the constraints imposed upon writers by literary convention (#2), and this reckless freedom can give us (as readers and writers) a rare glimpse, from the outside, of the essential silliness of our systematized limitations (#3).  It’s enough to make you laugh (#4), and throw your ‘how-to’ books out the window (#5)!  (BTW, this outsider’s perspective is one of the main gifts of ‘science-fiction’, but with Neuromancer, you can see this in the structure of the writing itself, in the words and how they sit next to each other to form ideas.)

#6: You do realize Neuromancer gave birth to cyberpunk (anything that can give birth to a new genre MUST be worthy of consideration).

#7: You do realize that Gibson coined the word Cyberspace, and other techno-words that are common place today are straight from Neuromancer.

#8: Imagery–the book is one big fat image.  Its amazing! (see below).

#9: Prose—okay we touched on this, but let’s get into it.  Gibson did something so radical and so revolutionary in Neuromancer that you probably take it for granted because he’s been copied millions of times since. I mean, his crammed prose and total disregard for traditional sentence structure (#10) and his use of totally made-up words (#11)—it’s beyond science-fiction, it’s beyond art, man—it’s genius (#12)!  Example:

Sky Over Chiba by George Rigato on Flickr "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

He closed his eyes.
Found the ridged face of the power stud.
And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes boiled in from the edge of space, hypnagogic images jerking past like a film compiled of random frames. Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred, fragmented mandala of visual information.
Please, he prayed, now-
A gray disk, the color of Chiba sky.
Now-
Disk beginning to rotate, faster, becoming a sphere of paler gray. Expanding-
And flowed, flowered for him, fluid neon origami trick, the unfolding of distanceless home, his country, transparent 3D chessboard extending to infinity. Inner eye opening to the stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority burning beyond the green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America, and high and very far away he saw the spiral arms of the military systems, forever beyond his reach.
And somewhere he was laughing, in a white-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face.

#13: It’s genius.

#14: William Gibson lives in Vancouver, which is an awesome city.

#15: You do realize that when he wrote that book there was no “Internet.”  At that point it was merely some little government/army file-sharing system and there were only a few people on it.

William Gibson, The 'Cyberpunk' Father, by Frederic Poirot on Flickr

#16: There is tons of sex, drugs (#17), and cybernetic implants (#18).

#19: The characters have real personalities.  You love them and you hate them (#20)—like all good characters.

#21: The plot: totally going somewhere the whole time; there is no boring place in the book, where you just skip a few pages.

#22: The ending is awesome: it’s not depressing, but it’s not happy-happy-joy-joy… it’s subtle (#23) and revelatory(#24).

#25: The title Neuromancer alone is awesome.

So there, I hope you will now commence to read Neuromancer for the second time, and this time, finish it. It’s on my list of must-reads for all of these 25 very good reasons. And if you’re a writer, then you can read it for the sake of becoming a better writer yourself (or a worse one, with more attitude).

Extra Links

The following links go straight to Google Book previews where you can read without paying money:

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4 Responses to 25 Reasons to Read William Gibson's Neuromancer

  1. Karoline says:

    I love reason #14 but perhaps that’s because I’m biased 😉

    this is actually on my to read list. Perhaps I should bump this up. I’ve been hearing so much great stuff about it. (The hombre read it, and he enjoyed it).

    • Shalon says:

      Thanks for the comment Karoline! yes, I’m biased towards reason #14 too 😉

      Yes, I’d heard about it for many years before I finally read it. I began it maybe two or three times… It’s difficult to read, that’s the truth, but it really is a ground-breaker, and worth it. After a while you get used to his style of prose in the book and it gets easier.

      What’s funny is that I’ve read other books by Gibson, Pattern Recognition, for example, and the prose is much easier to digest. This makes me think that he chose the crazy style purposely, because it reflected the chaotic world of the novel. Either that or he was just young and rebellious himself, trying out something new. Maybe a bit of both!

  2. I picked up my copy (read it years ago and last year, too) and found reason #26.

    It was published in 1984–the year of “1984” by George Orwell………

  3. Pingback: Author Interview ~ Shalon Sims « Notes from An Alien

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