Fantasy Review, Volume 7, Number 6, July 1984
First Novel Highly Recommended
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. Ace, New York, July 1984. 271 p. (galleys). $2.95, paper. ISBN 0-441-56956-0. Gollancz, London, July 1984. 8.95 pounds.
The press release claims Neuromancer is Gibson’s first novel. If you read the release after reading the novel, you’ll probably be inclined to call the release fiction and the novel fact. Gibson has created a rich, detailed, and vivid near-future, populated with uncomfortably realistic characters. Without sacrificing clarity, Gibson also manages an amazingly complex novel; some will enjoy it as a fast-paced, exciting adventure; others will claim it’s actually a very subtle, clever mystery; still others will see it as a thought-provoking social discourse.
Case, the central figure in Neuromancer, is an ex computer cowboy, one of the few who could use his own nervous system as an extension of the cyber-space matrix. After making a name for himself by penetrating corporate data centers, his nerves are deliberately damaged as punishment for stealing from his shadowy employers. An ex-military officer and his beautiful henchwoman recruit Case, repair his damaged nerves, and force him to make a try against an AI–an Artificial Intelligence. Along the way Case travels through the less attractive parts of Chiba City and BAMA, the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis.
Gibson will have a difficult time as a new novelist; his first effort is superb, and so expectations for future efforts may be unreachably high. Neuromancer is a major novel, difficult to compare with other works for the simple reason that it really is new, and different. Terry Carr, in his introduction, congratulates himself on finding it. The congratulations are deserved; the novel 1s highly recommended. — Lawrence I. Charters