Book 2 – Neuromancer by William Gibson

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

The poll brought in a three-way tie and we are going to go with the book ranked highest in the master list. Neuromancer wins by appearing on six of the twenty-four lists.

In his All-TIME 100 Novels review of Neuromancer, TIME literary critic Lev Grossman says, “There is no way to overstate how radical Gibson’s first and best novel was when it first appeared.”

Neuromancer is among the first books to have used the word “cyberspace.” Slowly, by word of mouth, this book introduced a generation to the concept of hacking and the subculture of drugs, distortion, and unflattering neon light that grew up around it. If the previous book we read (If on a winter’s night a traveler) was about people who live their lives through literature, this is a book about those who lose their lives online (and this was, for all intents and purposes, before there was an online).

It almost didn’t happen. The movie Blade Runner (based on a Philip K. Dick short story) came out while Gibson was working on his first draft. His reaction was that he thought he was “sunk, done for. Everyone would assume I’d copped my visual texture…” But fortunately for him, Blade Runner tanked at the box office and wouldn’t become a cultural touchstone for a decade or more.

Gibson’s influences are postmodern authors and musicians, many of whom earned their paychecks writing stuff that didn’t make a lot of sense (in an online interview with Gibson, Larry McCaffery cites J. G. Ballard and William S. Burroughs as two influences, while Gibson himself points to Lou Reed).

Expect a lot of funky technobabble and psychological mindgames ahead. We’re plugging in.

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