Sunday, December 16, 2012

Neuromancer (1984)

I was happy to take another blast through this much praised, pioneering science fiction classic recently and came up about where I expected. The byzantine multi-layered high concept plot, which is its inheritance from hard-boiled detective fiction, lost me pretty fast, as these plots will, while the imaginative near-future visionscape impressed a good deal as always, and even more, the gray dense metal language Gibson uses so skillfully to suggest that visionscape. It should be noted that Gibson is a pretty good story architect even while I have never felt particularly moved to go on and read the next two novels in the larger trilogy (Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive), or much of anything else by him. Interestingly, Neuromancer seems to me now to move much more like a graphic novel, image by image, word balloon by word balloon, piecing together the complexities of its plot and its ideas, even though it was well ahead of most such formal novel-length illustrated enterprises. The action here moves almost entirely on spindle legs of concept, which is its deeper inheritance from science fiction—so fully realized, in fact, that it invented its own subgenre, "cyberpunk," stories of infinite cool, vaguely Asian, technologically superior, anonymous youth, living and surviving in a world of smoldering disaster zones and sophisticated communication. Even though I'm not always 100% certain I know what's going on here (along with a good many of the characters to keep me company), and even though the narrative sometimes is so elliptical that all detail of plot points is lost in the blinding edgewise views, I always feel like I know this world on some natural level, and that is what remains most eerily seductive for me about it. It feels convincingly like a place, a time, a way to live and perceive, somewhere that existed. On the other hand, times change and so do perceptions. I find that I understand less now than ever I did some of the basic animating concepts, such as "jacking in." It seemed so intuitive at one time, so exciting and mysterious, but now I associate it more with the refresh button and browsers that won't load. To that extent, at least, Neuromancer may be suffering some tarnish to the gleam, and growing dated. But not by much.

In case it's not at the library.

No comments:

Post a Comment