Neuromancer

My plan to write a review each week hasn’t worked out, but now’s as good as time as any to recommit myself to the goal.

Ever since it was published in 1984, Neuromancer has been on my must-read list. (There’s a lot of books on that list, some having gathered as much dust as William Gibson’s novel; finally pulling one off the shelf, and enjoying the experience, is like eating a perfectly preserved cake.) It’s a book that can be appreciated on many different levels — it has the futuristic detail of classic science fiction, the suspense of a page-turning thriller, the grit of a dystopian fantasy, and the spirit of a countercultural manifesto.

And for all of its noir appeal and rough language (really, if the f-word’s not your thing, stay away), it does have its aesthetic qualities. The prose can be lyrical at times — metaphors such as my personal favorite, words emerging like discreet balloons of sound, are plentiful and never overdone — and it accomplishes the difficult task of making compelling characters of its antiheroes. “Neuromancer” has endured because Gibson succeeded in his attempt to create a unique work of fiction, far superior to the majority of works in the totally forgettable genre of cyberpunk it helped to inspire.

The Penguin audiobooks performance by Robertson Dean was steady but unspectacular. The narrator never overdramatizes, but while his voice was never dull it never was quite appealing either. Listening to this audiobook was like eating a warm bowl of plain oatmeal — you feel good about your food choice, but even better for being done with the experience.

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