Re-reading Neuromancer

It’s interesting re-reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer after almost 40 years. So many of the things that made me drop my jaw back then feel cliched and overdone due to the huge influence of the novel in the intervening years.

Every time Case talks about the Matrix or navigating digital defenses and many other things I’m unconsciously disappointed in a “been there, done that” way. But those things didn’t exist as a cultural phenomenon when the book came out.

It’s a great book and exceptionally well-written. I’m enjoying the hell out of it, and truly it is one of the few cultural revolutionary books in history. It didn’t just change the SF genre. It changed our culture.

I’m going to read Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix soon, as well. It was released less than a year after Neuromancer and the two pretty much established cyberpunk as a genre. Schismatrix never came close to having the influence of Neuromancer, although Sterling’s short stories in that world were highly influential, most likely on Gibson, as well. (Although both of them had been writing cyberpunk short stories for years, so a kind of collaborative influence was possibly at play). At the time, when I was around 18 years old, I remember fans gushing over both, but there being a small but animated group that felt Schismatrix was much more defining of cyberpunk in the world-building sense.